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FI Progress Update: August 2019 (Summer Wrap-up)

Kid 2 enjoying the waves at English Bay

It’s time for another FI progress update! Here’s what happened at the Eat Sleep Breathe FI household in August:

Investment update

  • 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 investments went down by 1% in August (sigh). That brings our portfolio back to where it was in April. It’s hard not to be disappointed. But… I aim to be an unemotional passive investor, so I’m not letting it get to me.

Besides, all this sideways non-growth could be a moot point. If you ask me, a recession and market drop are just around the corner. (Others in the FIRE community, like Joe at Retire by 40, also believe a recession is near.)

Obviously, I’m no expert, so this is just my silly opinion. But… on top of the bigger economic signals we’ve all been hearing about, I’ve also seen many small signs of fiscal restraint in the businesses I frequent or am familiar with. A recession is definitely looming!

While I’d feel bad for recent retirees, I welcome a drop in the markets. We’re way overdue for a correction, and I want to get it over with so we can move on! A stock market tumble in the next year would actually be good timing for us—it’d give our investments time to recover before our FI date. (And allow us to buy more stocks on sale.)

Oops… 

I made a mistake last month when I said we wouldn’t be making any further additions to our investments for 2019. I was wrong! 

I forgot that 6% of M’s paycheques are deducted as a contribution into his group RRSP (similar to a 401K in the States). That means we’ll continue to make bi-weekly RRSP contributions for the rest of the year.

We’re very fortunate that M’s company matches between 50–100% of his contributions. (The percentage match depends on how well the company does each year.) 

If you haven’t looked into your group RRSP or 401K to see if there’s a match, do it TODAY. Seriously, do it now—it’s free money!

Blogging update

Sadly, summer break has come to an end. There is a silver lining though: with my boys back at school, I’ll have more time to blog. This is a welcome change for me—it was an enormous challenge staying on top of my blog over the summer!

In my very first post, I stated that one of my blogging goals was to provide the best-quality content. I’m still committed to that. But I can’t produce quality content in short snippets of time here and there. The simple fact is: my writing stinks when I’m hurried or distracted! I do my best work with longer stretches of uninterrupted time. 

During summer breaks, that kind of time just isn’t available. I prioritize time with my boys and we spend a lot of time outside of the house. Throw in life and household management, and there’s little time left for anything else! 

It wasn’t easy juggling the blog with summer fun, but it mostly worked out. I’m hoping next year will be easier since I’ll be that much more experienced. (And I won’t be throwing a podcast launch into the mix!)

Thank you

I want to send a huge thanks to you, my readers, who stuck with me through the summer months. I realize that my summer content, though meeting my quality standards, wasn’t all that actionable. I’ll be getting back to meatier, more useful content soon!

Podcasting update

Thankfully, I found it easier to squeeze in podcasting than I did blogging over the summer. (That’s probably because there are three of us sharing the duties.) I’m also very fortunate that my co-hosts handle all the audio editing. Thanks, Money Mechanic and Ryan!

We managed to release seven episodes in July and August, which was quite the accomplishment. It was no easy feat scheduling three co-hosts (and sometimes a guest) across two or more time zones!

Explore FI Canada has been such a fun and life-changing project for me, and I intend to stick with it for many years to come. I’m excited to continue spreading the FIRE across Canada!

Do you have tips for me?

For the most part, EFIC has been a wonderful experience, but it hasn’t all been rainbows and unicorns. One challenge I’ve faced is imposter syndrome. I constantly fight back thoughts like, “I’m no podcaster—I sound terrible!”, “Why can’t I form coherent sentences?”, “How did I fumble that question?”

It’s not been easy! Writing is more comfortable for me since I can write, edit, and re-write to my heart’s content. Endless redos aren’t possible on a podcast (unless I want to drive my co-hosts crazy)! So I need to get better at nailing my delivery.

I realize I’m still very green, and need to keep practicing. But if you have suggestions for how I can improve, I’d love some tips!

Life update

This brings me to the final section—an update on my life in general. As mentioned in my last post, summer was wonderful but crazy! The boys and I went out almost every day, and the days we didn’t go out were spent busily catching up on things. 

Despite the exhaustion, I couldn’t be happier with how our summer went. (You can read about what we did in July in my previous FI Progress Update). 

Here’s what we got up to in August:

ChooseFI/Mustachian meetup

Beautiful Cleveland Dam in North Vancouver (Image credit: GoToVan, CC BY 2.0)

In early August, I attended another local FI meetup at Cleveland Dam in North Vancouver. It was extra-special because we had a surprise guest: the amazing Paula Pant! I’m such a huge fan of hers, and still can’t believe I got to meet her right here in Vancouver. 

Since the meetup, people have asked me: how was Paula? In short—she was awesome! Paula was super friendly and made an effort to chat with everyone at the meetup. She’s down-to-earth and so easy to talk to. Hopefully, it won’t be the last time I meet her!

As I tried not to act too star-struck around Paula, I also had the opportunity to meet Bob Lai’s lovely wife and daughter, and chat with some old and new FI friends. It was a fun and engaging afternoon, and I look forward to the next meetup! 

Family staycation

Mmm... time for s'mores!

Every summer for the last eight years, we’ve taken a 3–5 day trip with my extended family. (That would be my dad, my twin sister and her family, and our younger brother and his wife.) So far, we’ve been to Victoria, Bowen Island, Kelowna, and Anacortes.

Staycation 1.0

In 2017, our family trip to Kelowna had to be cancelled due to wildfires. Since we’d already booked the time off and planned all our meals, we decided turn our house into an Airbnb and host a staycation. With kids on air mattresses and one family per bedroom, we managed to squeeze everyone in—and we had a blast!

Staycation 2.0

This summer, we had a different issue to contend with—a baby on the way! My brother and his wife are expecting their first baby and their due date is very near. Because of this, it wasn’t the best idea to leave town. 

A staycation in our house was again the perfect choice. We hung out and played board games, cooked and ate together, and explored local sites. It was relaxing and stress-free, and everyone had a great time. 

The staycation was also incredibly frugal, with my family’s expenses coming to about $100. More importantly—the staycation was just as enjoyable as if we’d travelled somewhere. We realized that it doesn’t matter where we are or what we do. The point is to spend time together.

We still enjoy the novelty of going out of town, but it’s nice to have the option of a staycation to fall back on. I’m sure this won’t be our last!

Summer fun with Uncle Danny

The gorgeous garden/pool area at Uncle Danny's building in downtown Vancouver

Uncle Danny is a long-time childhood friend of M’s mom. As children, they played together in the countryside of colonial Hong Kong. They hunted for bugs, flew kites, and played cowboys and Indians. (What an ideal childhood!) Even after all these years, they’re still good friends and keep in touch regularly.

Uncle Danny and his late wife travelled extensively, so he feels he’s done more than enough traveling. He now prefers a quieter lifestyle, and for others to come to him for visits. Lucky for him, he lives in an amazing downtown apartment in the heart of the West End—complete with an outdoor pool. This means he has no shortage of visitors (including the four of us)!

A day out downtown

When Uncle Danny invited us to join him for a day out in the summer sunshine, we jumped at the opportunity. We swam in his pool, hung out at English Bay, walked to Stanley Park, and ate out for lunch, dinner, and dessert. (If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that we rarely eat out. It’s such a treat for us when we do!)

Not only did we have a ton of fun, but we also got so much quality time with Uncle Danny. He told us stories of the silly things they did as kids; what life was like as a new immigrant to Canada; how he and his wife met and eventually married; and what living in Toronto was like. He had so many fun and entertaining stories to share with us, and we all listened with rapt attention. 

And then we did it all again… and again

We and Uncle Danny had room in our calendars for another day out… so we did it all again a second time with my sister and her kids. (Uncle Danny welcomed her with open arms—the more the merrier!) 

Not wanting summer to end, we squeezed in a third visit with Uncle Danny on the last day of summer break. We even took Mika along and let her go crazy at the off-leash dog park in Stanley Park. What an amazing, memorable way to close off the summer!

We blew our restaurant budget

Uncle Danny generously treated my boys and me to all our meals on our first visit, but we insisted on repaying his kindness and treated him to dinner on our second and third visits. 

With a total of $400 in restaurant meals for August, we totally blew our restaurant budget! But what the heck—we rarely eat out, and it was so worth it. We got to try some new restaurants, eat delicious food, and enjoy a ton of quality time with Uncle Danny.

We had such a great time, and plan to continue the fun through the fall and winter. We’re thinking of trying all the ramen places downtown and creating our own little rating system. Also, one of M’s cousin’s mentioned she gets free meals by writing review posts for a local restaurant blog… maybe I can turn this into a mini side hustle? We’ll see!

The Mika saga continues

Hiking with friends at Mount Seymour Provincial Park

In my last update, I wrote about us possibly adopting Mika (M’s cousin’s Shiba Inu). Since then, some unexpected complications have come up, and we’re now faced with the full burden of taking on a dog—vet bills, boarding costs, food and all. It’s been a rollercoaster of a week, and we keep going back and forth on whether we can or should keep Mika.

We’re so torn

We love Mika dearly, and can’t bear the thought of sending her to another family. She’s perfect for our family and is the most well-behaved, low-maintenance dog we’ve ever known. Mika makes us happy and gets us out of the house a lot more than if we didn’t have her. She’s good for us!

BUT we travel a fair amount, and plan to travel even more once M leaves his job. (That’s still a ways off, but Mika will still be around at that time.) Boarding her could end up being prohibitively expensive. 

Then there’s also the potentially-costly vet bills to contend with. What if she breaks a leg? Eats something that makes her sick? Develops a chronic condition? There’s so much that’s unknown, and so much to consider.

M’s also worried that we’re still in the honeymoon phase and not yet seeing the full reality of a dog. He (justifiably) wonders if we’ll be as enthusiastic once the cold, rainy weather hits. 

Getting educated

I’ve done research and spoken to other Shiba owners to get a feel for potential health issues and vet costs for Mika. It seems you either get a very healthy Shiba with few issues or one with seemingly-endless health concerns. Mika has been very healthy so far, but who knows what the future holds.

To cover those unknown medical bills, many people have suggested getting pet insurance. Then there are others who say to self-insure by saving the premium amount yourself. I’ll have to do more research before we can decide on this.

It’s too early to decide

There’s still a lot we need to think about before we make this decade-long decision. M would also like more time to experience what it’ll be like to have Mika permanently. I can’t take her on without M’s full buy-in, so extending the trial run is definitely a wise choice. 

We’re going to give ourselves a couple more months… all the while trying not to get too attached to this crazy little furball!

View this post on Instagram

Hello Mikachu! #shiba #shibainu #pikachu #cutedogs

A post shared by Chrissy (@eatsleepbreathefi) on

And that’s a wrap!

As always, I want to hear from you! Leave a comment below to tell me how your summer went. Are you sad or relieved that it’s time to get back to school? What would you do about Mika if you were in our position?

Also… if you’re a pro at public speaking, share your wisdom with me. (Please!) Help me improve my podcasting skills so I don’t sound like such a noob!

Sharing is caring…

If you liked this article and want more content like this, please support this blog by sharing it! Not only does it help spread the FIRE, but it lets me know what content you find most useful. (Which encourages me to write more of it!) Thanks for your support!

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Joe
    September 10, 2019 at 8:49 am

    Wow, what a busy summer. You guys had a ton of fun. I’m really happy our son started school. Now I have a little more time to catch up on chores and DIY stuff.
    Mika is such a cute dog. I think you guys should take her and deal with the other issues later. 🙂

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      September 10, 2019 at 12:21 pm

      I know you also keep pretty busy in the summer with your son, so you and I are both enjoying some extra time to focus and have some peace and quiet! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Mika. The cuteness is definitely a factor in her favour!!!

  • Reply
    Modern Fimily
    September 10, 2019 at 11:49 am

    Sounds like a fun filled summer with a lot of family time – can’t beat that!

    Personally, we are a no-pet family and plan to stay that way for all the reasons you mentioned above. Pets take up a lot of time, energy, and money – especially when you are heading out of town. I honestly feel bad for my brothers dog because of all the travel he does. I think my brother got caught up in the “honeymoon phase” as you mention and it’s tough to think about 10+ years when a cute adorable pup just wants to cuddle and lick you all the time. However, if you are an animal lover, those nuances can easily be overcome. I think it’s ultimately a personal choice every family has to make!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      September 10, 2019 at 12:26 pm

      Like you, we were absolutely NOT looking to add a pet to our family! Until this whole Mika situation fell into our laps, we were adamant about never having any pets again. I still keep changing my mind multiple times a day! We are working through it to see if we can plan for all the worst-case scenarios. To be continued…

  • Reply
    Kris
    September 10, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    Oh man, sounds like a fun summer with the family, you can’t beat that. It’s been a memorable summer for us! With the arrival of BwC, TwC starting preschool and everything in between like family trips to the zoo, museum, kids’ birthday parties and just having a great time. This will be what our lives will basically be for the next ten years or so and we are looking forward to it.
    So cool you met Paula at the FI meetup. I listen to her podcast too and she has great and inspiring content on there.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      September 18, 2019 at 10:02 pm

      Hi Kris! So sorry—I only noticed now that I never replied to this comment. You are in the fun years when everything is new and exciting for your kids. Once they’re preteens and teens, they’re more selective about what they want to do! Enjoy this precious time in your kids’ lives. 🙂

      I LOVE Paula. She’s such an inspiration to me, and I’m still in disbelief that I met her!

  • Reply
    Lori
    September 11, 2019 at 10:27 am

    It is not inexpensive, but keep the dog! Our dogs (we have 2 big boys) have been best friends to every member of my family, listened to our children’s troubles, given countless much-needed snuggles, and are true members of our family. And when we make trips that they can’t come on, they don’t go to the kennel. They go to camp (dog sitting in someone’s home) where they go to the dog park daily, take walks, and play with other dogs. The dog sitter posts pictures on Facebook so we don’t worry and we know they’re having as good a time as we are.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      September 11, 2019 at 11:07 am

      Thank you for sharing your experience and insight. I am in complete agreement with you—dogs are amazing and wonderful. The four of us love, love, love dogs. The benefits of having a dog (or a few) are truly priceless. I just have to make sure everyone is fully on-board! We’re getting there… we just need a little more time.

      • Maria @ Handful of Thoughts
        September 13, 2019 at 8:59 pm

        As a teacher I find I can be way more productive on personal things during the summer. Now that school has started I’m struggling to find the time to do all the things I want to do on top of all the things I have to do.

        At one point we had wanted a dog and have since changed our minds. We often work long variable hours. For us it didn’t seem fair for the pup to be isolated for long periods at a time. All of that is on top of the same concerns you mention. Maybe as our little one grows up we will change our mind but for now we will stay a pet free household.

      • Chrissy
        September 16, 2019 at 9:42 pm

        Hello Maria, it’s nice to ‘meet’ you! My sister is also a teacher and finds the same—she has to slow down with getting personal things done once school starts. Teachers are so wonderfully giving of their time. It’s hard to find the balance between work and home life.

        We’ve tried so hard to be pet-free since we had kids! It’s enough keeping the two wild animals of ours alive as it is, let alone adding another dependent creature! But somehow, we keep getting sucked back in and can’t seem to keep our home pet-free for more than a few years. Right now, things are still going really well with Mika. Hopefully we’ll have a decision for my next update, or if not, the one after.

        PS I just peeked at your blog and am excited to read more of your content!

  • Reply
    Teresa
    September 13, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    This is Teresa – Chrissy’s MIL (Monster in law) putting in her two-bits again…. I am Chrissy’s biggest fan or I think I am….. To combat the sadness when my boys started school after each school break, I used to write the number of the week on the little tear-off corner of my daytimer – #1 being the last week of school before the next break! That way, I could count down to the next time we (hubby & me) would have another fun break with our boys. Yes, daytimers have now been replaced by Google Calendar – so much easier…..

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      September 16, 2019 at 9:30 pm

      Ha ha, you are in no way a monster-in-law! I’m very lucky to have your support in everything I do. I love the idea of a countdown until the next break. I’m going to start that right now!

  • Reply
    Lily / Un Pais Libre
    September 14, 2019 at 1:25 am

    Happy pup! Good luck making that decision,
    it sounds like it won’t be easy. We love our dog, but as you say, there are pros and cons.

    Also, you sound great on the podcast! We’re always more critical of ourselves. The advice I always get from people who know what they’re doing in public speaking (I do some for work) is that slowing down makes the biggest difference, if that is helpful for you. Or to think of your ideal “radio persona” and try to channel that. I also almost never listen to myself because it makes me too self-conscious. 🙂

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      September 16, 2019 at 9:48 pm

      Yes, Mika sure is a happy pup (even though her Shiba demeanour makes her look so serious all the time!) We’ve had A LOT of conversations about her, so whatever decision we make will definitely be a solid one. 🙂

      And I am SO touched by your kind words about my podcasting. I’m very unsure of myself, and it’s nice to get a vote of confidence. Your tips are so helpful. I’m writing them down and will remind myself of them often. Thank you Lily!

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