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FI Progress Update: June 2019

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:

Blog update

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:

  1. Scale back to blogging every other week over the summer. Then fill in the empty weeks by sharing my most-helpful, previously-published content.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

Life update

Along with the blogging/podcasting craziness, life has also been jam-packed!

Our beautiful campsite at MTN Fun Basecamp in Squamish, BC

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!)

It was odd and worrisome—but mostly really cool—to know that my blogiversary post and the Explore FI Canada episodes automatically went live as I was sleeping in our tent under the trees! #bloglife

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. 🙂

Money update

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.1

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 grant2 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

M's new/old toy—a 1965 convertible Mustang

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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20 Comments

  • Reply
    Russ
    July 8, 2019 at 4:20 am

    Two things here: 1. I grew up in Chilliwack so visiting Cultus Lake was a part of life for me. I even worked there one summer. 2. I spent 10 years of my life in Japan and my wife is Japanese. A place dear to my heart. What are your travel plans?

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      July 8, 2019 at 6:19 am

      Hi Russ, thanks for your comment! I love that some of my readers are local. 🙂

      Cultus and Chilliwack are gorgeous areas. We’d love to visit more often if they weren’t so far away from Vancouver!

      Re: Japan, I’m so jealous that you were able to live there for a decade! If we didn’t have family, work, and school rooting us here, we’d happily move there.

      This will be our second trip to Japan. On our first trip in 2018, we fell in love with the country and couldn’t wait to return. On that trip, we saw Kyoto, Tokyo, and Yokohama.

      This trip, we’re planning to visit Okinawa, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka. If we have time, we’ll also re-visit some of our favourite spots in Tokyo.

      Do you have any tips or suggestions for us?

      • Russ
        July 8, 2019 at 6:29 pm

        I can best comment on Kobe, where I spent most of my time. One recommendation might be to tour a sake brewery. The Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum appears to be the one that is recommended the most, but there is more than one such place out there (we went to a smaller one when we were in Kobe at the end of 2018). There is also a Chinatown (called Nankinmachi in Japanese) in downtown Kobe that will give you a bit of a different flavour than Vancouver’s Chinatown. For a sense of the commercial district of Kobe, walk through Sannomiya Center-Gai and Motomachi. And for a newer area check out Harborland. You can do a lot of shopping and people watching around these places as well as find places to eat. You may want to explore Port Island and/or Rokko Island, two artificial islands. They have automated trains that run to and from the mainland. It’s certainly not a traditional element of Japan, but you get something of the flavour of Japanese society from walking around there.

      • Chrissy
        July 8, 2019 at 7:02 pm

        This is a fantastic list Russ! Thank you for taking the time to type that out for me. It’s great to get tips from someone with local knowledge. I’ll be saving this to my notes to take with us on our trip. You’ve saved me quite a bit of research!

  • Reply
    PhiaFreedom101
    July 8, 2019 at 6:52 am

    Love Cultus Lake! So much fun to be had out there 🙂 Sounds like you guys have had a great kick off to summer!!!

    We did the same thing the last weekend before school! AND Mike and our oldest went on their first hike in camping trip/overnighter on the last day of school. As luck would have it though – 2 hours in our arachnophobic son got bit by a tick – OH NO! For all the hiking/camping Mike have done, neither of us have every been bitten lol – so of course Jordan gets bit. Camping under the stars turned into a trip to Hope hospital to drop the tick off for Lyme disease testing, and the boys making their camping dinners in the middle of our kitchen that night. Memories 😉

    Also – love the car! (But you know how I feel about purchases that bring you value!!) Congrats!! I’m excited to read your more detailed post on it!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      July 8, 2019 at 9:11 am

      Oh my gosh Phia—ticks freak me out! I hope the tests came back clear. Your poor son!

      Re: the car purchase, I had you and your Tesla purchase in mind when I wrote about it! Like with many other things, we’re on the same wavelength there. 👍

  • Reply
    PhiaFreedom101
    July 8, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Yah me too!!! My Dad actually contracted Lyme disease from a tick bite a number of years ago, but fortunately they caught it, and were able to deal with it via some rigorous antibiotic treatment – but ever since then I’ve been obsessive about checking our heads/clothes/gear etc!! Yuck yuck yuck!

    But fortunately looks like all is well, no symptoms – phew!

    And yes – we are definitely on the same wavelength when it comes to balancing life while pursuing FI 🙂 I especially love that balance and mindful spending isn’t something you just talk about on the blog/podcast, you also clearly put it it into practice in your families life. So fantastic!!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      July 8, 2019 at 7:00 pm

      Phew, I’m so glad your son is okay. Lyme disease is no joke. Lucky that your dad managed to get rid of it too—very lucky.

      Thanks for your kind words! It helps too that I’m surrounded by so many other bloggers, like you, who write about how to live your best life both pre and post-FI. We all help to teach each other. 🙂

  • Reply
    Tawcan
    July 9, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Japan would be fantastic as a family trip (we just went in Feb). Having been to Japan many many times myself, I’m sure you, your husband, and your kids will really enjoy the trip. 🙂

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      July 9, 2019 at 10:19 pm

      Bob—I’m jealous that you’ve been to Japan many, many times! We went for the first time last year and fell in love. It’s an amazing country with kind and welcoming people. Can’t wait to go back!

  • Reply
    Reverse The Crush
    July 10, 2019 at 10:35 am

    Hey Chrissy, thanks for sharing the update. I think that makes a lot of sense to scale back blogging in the summer to spend with your kids. I remember what life was like back then. Things start to change after 16, 18, and 21.

    It’s great to hear that your portfolio increased. Mine is back up a bit too, in terms of percentage. I also liked your message about financial security. Even though I have hardly achieved anything significant financially yet, I can relate because I do feel some sense of security from having money saved.

    The car looks beautiful! I don’t have a car now but I come from a family that appreciates cars like this. Enjoy it!

    Enjoy your summer!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      July 12, 2019 at 8:35 pm

      Thanks for coming by to comment Graham. It’s definitely a great feeling to know you’ve got your ducks in row financially—even if you don’t have a high net worth yet.

      I hope you have a great summer as well!

  • Reply
    GYM
    July 11, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    Wow nice ride!! Was it an expensive car? it’s so shiny.

    I love Paytm too, it’s great! I just referred my dad recently, LOL.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      July 12, 2019 at 8:36 pm

      For a 54 year old car, it’s definitely not cheap. 😭 But compared to the 2019 Shelby that M initially considered, this is a bargain!

  • Reply
    FreedomFiter
    July 14, 2019 at 3:13 am

    I’m continually impressed with you – it seems like you are making all the right wrong choices. Wrong by specific definitions, right because you are so good at intentionally choosing your path.

  • Reply
    Brian
    July 14, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Very cool Mustang. I actually had a ’65 when I was in high school (1991-1993). It broke my heart to sell it, but it wasn’t a good commuter and I wasn’t able to give it the attention it needed.

    I can also relate on your comment about property taxes. In Dallas we pay roughly 2.5% of the home price which is steep!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      July 14, 2019 at 11:01 pm

      Wow Brian—I can’t believe you had a classic Mustang in high school! That’s pretty awesome.

      Yeah, it’s definitely not for year-round commuting—my husband only drives his on dry days and only in the summer. This car gets babied!

  • Reply
    Abigail @ipickuppennies
    July 15, 2019 at 9:06 am

    The car is definitely an indulgence, but like you said, it’s important to live it up once in a while during the part of your life when you can really enjoy it. As long as you have a plan (and I’m sure you do), then I’m sure the purchase makes sense. I’ll be interested to read that post to find out the reasoning/plan!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      July 16, 2019 at 9:08 pm

      Hi Abigail, thanks for the vote of confidence. Being the hyper optimizer that I am, you know I’ve got a solid plan! I’m dying to write the follow-up article… hopefully in the next week or two!

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