Kid 2, my sister’s kids, and Kid 1 at Cultus Lake Adventure Park (With so many fun things to do in the summer, I almost didn’t finish this update on time!)
Welcome to my FI progress update for June! It was a month of BIG expenses, including one that might shock my readers. I’ll explain more in a bit, but first—some blog and life updates:
Here’s what happened at ESBFI in June:
July 1st madness
All of June was a crazy sprint, trying to finish up blog and podcast stuff before the kids got out of school. My detailed 6-month blogiversary post and the launch of the Explore FI Canada podcast were both scheduled for July 1st—so things got a little hairy as June came to a close!
Summer break uncertainty
My summers are all about spending time with my kids. They’re growing up so fast, and I treasure every moment I get to spend with them.
BUT having fun with my boys means there’s little time for blogging and podcasting! I still haven’t decided how I’m going to handle blogging and podcasting over the summer, but I have some ideas:
- Scale back to blogging every other week over the summer. Then fill in the empty weeks by sharing my most-helpful, previously-published content.
- Post on a ‘whenever-I-can basis’ with no schedule. This might mean once a week or every ten days, but not always on a Monday as I usually do.
- Commit to keeping up with once a week, and just see what I manage to produce.
I’m going to play things by ear as I mull over the options. Regardless of what I decide, I’ll definitely be posting quite actively on Instagram. Follow me there to see what the boys and I get up to this summer!
Along with the blogging/podcasting craziness, life has also been jam-packed!
We went camping
School ended on June 27, then we spent the entire next day prepping for our camping trip. Over the Canada Day long weekend, we enjoyed sunny, dry weather camping with our friends in Squamish. (And we even squeezed in a hike and some geocaching!)
Fortunately, everything went off without a hitch and my lack of wifi wasn’t an issue. (Huge thanks to Money Mechanic and Ryan for taking care of business while I was away!)
Kid 1’s turning 14
Kid 1 will be celebrating his 14th birthday next week (I still haven’t figured out how to make my kids stay cute and little forever!)
That means on top of all the craziness of blogging, podcasting and camping, I also had to plan a birthday party!
We’ll be taking Kid 1 and his friends to Spider-Man: Far From Home. (Spidey’s always been his favourite superhero.) After the movie, we’ll bring them back to our house for dinner and a sleepover.
It’s not the cheapest of parties, but we saved on the tickets by purchasing them through Perkopolis. And of course, it’s all worth it for the memories.
Here’s what happened money-wise at the ESBFI household in June:
- The chart displays the total value of our retirement investments. Our RESP, cash holdings, and home equity aren’t included.
- The huge jump in February 2018 was due to us refinancing our home and investing the funds. (This leveraged investing strategy cut our time to FI by four years.)
- The percentage at the bottom represents the growth/drop in our investments compared to the previous month. This includes investment growth/losses and any additions we made to our accounts.
Our portfolio increased by 2.5%
We didn’t add money to our investments this month, but the markets were good to us. We saw a 2.5% increase in our investments over last month.
We’re still below our portfolio’s all-time high in April. But it’s out of our control so I’m not going to worry about it!
We paid for our flights to Japan
I mentioned in my previous FI Progress Update that we decided not to send Kid 1 on a school trip to Japan next year. Instead, we’re putting the money we saved towards a family trip to Japan.
I started monitoring flight prices using Kayak, expecting to have to wait a few months to catch a price drop. Luckily for me, I managed to snag a huge deal within a couple of weeks of searching! Our tickets ended up costing only $732 per person.[note]Despite being a part-time travel hacker, I paid in cash for our flights. We have a growing stash of Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy points that we’ll one day put towards flights. But with four adult fares to cover, it takes a while to save up that many points![/note]
We could’ve saved another $40 by buying a child ticket for Kid 2, but he turns 12 while we’re in Japan. (To qualify for the discounted child fare, JAL’s rule is the child must be 11 or under for the entire duration of the trip.)
Oh well—$732 per person is still an amazing price for a roundtrip YVR–NRT ticket. (The average cost is $900–$1,000.)
The four tickets added a whopping $3,000 to our expenses for the month—yikes! Fortunately, we’d already saved up more than this for Kid 1’s now-cancelled Japan trip.
Thankful for financial literacy and FI
In situations like this, I’m so thankful that I’ve had the time, opportunity, and upbringing to become as financially literate as I am. If our finances weren’t in order, I’d have a lot of anxiety about dropping $3K on a single purchase.
FI and the financial literacy it requires brings so much peace and security to my life. That feels like freedom to me—even if we’re still years away from hitting our number.
This is why I’m so passionate about helping others discover and learn about FI. I want to bring financial freedom to all!
We paid for our property taxes
While we love living in the Vancouver area, we don’t love the high cost of real estate here—or the property taxes that go along with it.
Even worse: the suburb we live in levies some of the highest property taxes in the Vancouver area. Our property taxes are so high, they rival our top two expenses: groceries and transportation. Ugh!
Bright spot #1
Amidst this carnage, there was a bright spot: we received the entire $570 homeowner’s grant[note]The homeowner’s grant decreases in increments after a certain home valuation threshold. Our house’s assessed value peaked in 2016, which pushed us into the no-grant zone. [/note] this year. Last year, we only received a partial grant. And the year before, we got NONE! That was very painful.
Vancouver real estate started cooling off last year and is continuing to cool this year. It’s bad news for sellers and the real estate industry, but good news for buyers and taxpayers.
Bright spot #2
There was a second bright spot in paying for our property taxes: we earned credit card points for the payments!
Last month, I paid for a portion of our property taxes using our BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard. This helped us earn 3,000 bonus Air Miles (which we’ll eventually use towards flights to Disneyland or Hawaii).
In June, I paid the rest of our property taxes using our Rogers World Elite Mastercard. This earned us 1.75% in cashback. Pretty amazing!
Cashback rewards for our taxes
Paying thousands in property taxes stings a little less when we can earn credit card points for it! But municipalities typically don’t accept credit cards. So how exactly did I do this?
The secret is to pay using a Mastercard and an app called Paytm.
How Paytm works
Paytm works just like the bill payment function in your online banking. But the difference is: it pulls the funds from your linked credit card(s) instead of your bank account.
There are no fees to use Paytm as long as you use a Mastercard. I’m still not sure how they make money, but the service works! I’ve used Paytm since March 2018 and have had zero issues. I love Paytm, and will keep using it as long as it’s still available.
How to earn $5 in points
If you sign up for Paytm using my referral code: PTM4419016 and pay your first bill of at least $50, each of us will receive 5,000 PayTM points! (That’s worth $5 in gift cards through their rewards portal.)
M bought a new toy
This is my biggest money news for June (or maybe the entire year). M bought a new toy—a 1965 convertible Mustang!
This car purchase is about as non-Mustachian as it gets! The car is 54 years old and a gas guzzler. It’s car number three for our household (but we only have a one-car garage!) To top it all off, we did the unthinkable and paid for it with borrowed money.
Gasp! Have we lost our minds?
I promise you—we haven’t! There were good reasons behind all this madness (I’ll explain more in a future post). For now, I’ll keep it short and sweet:
Why we bought this car
It’s true—buying this car makes no financial sense. Not only did we have to pay for the purchase of the car, but the associated expenses will permanently increase our annual spending.
And yet, we know it was a good purchase. Why? Well, it goes back to something I always stress: we shouldn’t wait for FI to live our best lives. For us, being happy on the journey to FI is just as important as reaching FI.
This car makes M so happy. It’s the fulfilment of a dream NOW—while he’s young and healthy enough to enjoy it. For all that this car means to M, it’s worth the cost and the delayed path to FI.
Before you question our sanity…
There’s more to this story! And I think it’ll convince even the most hardcore Mustachian that we made the right decision. But this post is long enough, so I’ll save it for another time.
Stay tuned for more!
And that’s a wrap!
What do you think? Are we crazy? Do we spend way too much on travel? Would you buy a third car just for fun? Comment below and share your thoughts!
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