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:
- 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.)
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!
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!)
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!
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!
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:
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!
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.
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!
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!
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Here we are enjoying another fun @kidsworldvancouver event! This time it was at the beautiful George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Wow, this place is SO pretty—it's like walking through a painting! If I lived nearby, I'd come for a daily stroll. It's such a peaceful, serene place with so many native birds and plants to see and marvel at. The 2.5 km loop trail was easy and fun, with several stops along the way where the kids could feed the ducks and Canada geese. What a lovely, educational way to spend the day! We also took some time to stop and check out the blueberries at a local shop on Westham Island (which the sanctuary is located on). The island and nearby Ladner are SO charming! Even though we were born and raised in Vancouver, we never explored this area before. We've been missing out! There's still so much to see, and we'll definitely be back. #kidsworld #kidsworldvancouver #georgecreifelmigratorybirdsanctuary #reifelbirdsanctuary #ladner #westhamisland #summerfun #vancouverfun #vancouverfamily #familyfunvancouver #delta
Summer fun with Uncle Danny
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
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.
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!
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!
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