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FI Progress Update: September 2019 (A Tough Month)

sun and rain Loren Gu Unsplash

My September felt like this (photo by Loren Gu on Unsplash)

You know how it sometimes rains when it’s sunny? Or it rains for days on end, then suddenly the sunshine pokes through? Well that’s what September felt like to me—it was both rainy (busy and exhausting) and sunny (happy and fun-filled). Here’s what happened:

Life update

My email subscribers already know most of this (I tend to blab a little more about that stuff in my emails). But for those who aren’t subscribers, here’s what happened at the ESBFI household in September:

A tough few weeks

You may have noticed there was a gap in my posting schedule at the end of September. That’s because I had to set the blog aside when life threw me a few too many curveballs:

  • Kid 2 was home sick for a few days. (It’s hard to get things done with a chatty 11YO by your side all day!)
  • I caught Kid 2’s cold, and it knocked me out. I had no energy for more than two weeks.
  • Our former homestay student Tanja (and her boyfriend Simon) came to stay with us for five days. We spent lots of time together sightseeing, chatting, eating, and just enjoying each others’ company. 
View this post on Instagram

These photos are from Friday, when we had a sunny day out with our former homestay student Tanja. She and her boyfriend Simon stayed with us for five nights and are now on their way to Vancouver Island and Seattle. . Tanja lived us in 2006 when she was only 17! Kid 1 was only one at the time and Kid 2 wasn't even a twinkle in my eye. 😉 . My husband says Tanja is our Swiss daughter—and she really is. We feel like we raised her that year when she lived with us! We consoled her through friend troubles, saw her off in a limo for her grad party, and even taught her (a little bit) how to drive! . Since that time, she's come back to visit one other time (when Kid 2 was two) and met a lovely boyfriend named Simon. And every year, without fail, she emails each of us on our birthdays. She's just amazing. ❤️ . It was such a pleasure having Tanja back in our house again—but this time as a successful young woman with a wonderful, loving partner. We're so proud of the woman she's become and hope it won't be long before we see her again. (Perhaps in her homeland of Switzerland next time?) 🇨🇭 . I'm always in awe of the richness of life experiences that homestay hosting has brought us. We're incredibly fortunate to have been able to welcome so many amazing students into our home, and we look forward to continuing to host for many years to come. 🥰 We'll miss you dear Tanja. Until we meet again, auf wiedersehen! 👋

A post shared by Chrissy (@eatsleepbreathefi) on

  • My brother and his wife had a new baby (which meant a lot of excitement and fuss)!
  • We hosted several dinners with family and friends. (Which is always yummy and fun, but it filled our calendar to the brim.)
  • My kids had a bunch of school professional days, early dismissals, and late starts. Every week had a slightly different schedule! (Non-routine days/weeks really throw me out.)
  • After Tanja and Simon left, we had to quickly change our guest rooms over. (Two new homestay students arrived just a week later.)
  • My two review posts—Flashfood and Coast Capital—kept me very busy! Both needed a few rounds of updates (because info/details changed). And the Coast Capital post required a lot of back and forth with their marketing team to set up.
  • Due to all the above, I stayed up way too late and got up early too many days in a row (which added to my exhaustion from being sick). 

Basically, September wasn’t kind to me! But things have calmed down, and October should be much quieter. Slowly but surely, I’m getting caught up!

Other happenings

Aside from the craziness of the above, a few other things also happened in September:

mika in the forest

The Saga of Mika concludes

As most of you already know, we’ve decided to keep our dog, Mika. I wrote two new posts about it for those who’d like to know more:

Back to school

The boys went back to school, which is sad for me because it means another summer has ended. It also means we’re back to the chaos of the school year (homework, forms, field trips, volunteering).

But it’s not all bad! It’s been good to get back to a routine. I’ve also enjoyed having more time to blog and get things done around the house.

Until next summer, dear Mustang

With the arrival of wet fall weather, M has put his beloved classic Mustang into storage. (We looked into daily or weekly insurance for the occasional nice weather days, but it’s too costly to justify.)

M will still see his car though—it’s safely stowed just minutes away in his parents’ garage. (His dad is a former mechanic, and has all the tools and equipment to work on it.)

They plan to tinker with it while it’s in storage, which will be nice for M as it’ll give him more quality time with his dad. 

Spending update

This is a new addition to my FI progress reports. I thought it might be helpful/interesting to note areas in which we spent more or less than usual. Let me know what you think!

oeb poutine
One of the breakfast poutines from OEB in Yaletown, Vancouver—so yummy!

Eating out

We spent a lot more on eating out this month—$487 instead of our average $195/month. This included: 

  • A few meals out downtown with M’s Uncle Danny.
  • Lunch out while we were waiting for my brother’s new baby to be born.
  • Several meals out while taking our student Tanja and her boyfriend out sightseeing. 

We love eating out and want to spend more on it because it makes us happy. But $500/month is more than we’d like to spend, so we’ll cut back in October. 


In September, M bought a birthday gift for one co-worker and paid for a birthday lunch for another. We also bought a birthday gift for Kid 1’s friend. So our gift spending was higher than usual at $185 (it’s normally $100/month).

Note: now that the boys are older, birthday parties are far less frequent. In the heyday of friend/classmate birthday parties, our average gift spending used to be over $200/month! That’s now reduced to about $100/month.


This was our first purchase of raw food for Mika since she came to live with us. A case of food is $80 and lasts about 7 weeks. Add in treats and a nail trim/grind, and we ended up spending $118 on her this month.

Credit card annual fees

Earlier this month, we were charged $170 in annual fees for our Scotia Momentum Infinite Visas. I’m no longer happy with this card and plan to change it out soon. 

Not only did they raise the fees ($120 + $50 for additional card vs the old fees of $99 + $30) but they also decreased the percentage earned on gas (2% instead of 4%).

Unfortunately, I can’t just cancel the card and have the annual fee refunded to me just yet. That’s because I’ll lose the $350 in cashback we’ve earned if I cancel before the card’s fiscal year-end in November. 

Scotiabank advised me to leave things as-is, let my rewards post to my account, then cancel. At that time, they’ll pro-rate our annual fees then refund us for the months we didn’t use.

I plan to update my ‘what’s in my wallet’ post to let you know what our new favourite cards are. Sadly, it’ll no longer include the Scotia Momentum Infinite Visa.

Investing update

fi progress 1909
  • 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.

It was another ‘meh’ month for our investments, with a drop of 0.3%. Not much else to say!

Side note: In my last update, I said a coming recession would mean tumbling stock markets… but I was wrong! I recently reread some of the excellent content on Ed Rempel’s site and came across these articles:

If you haven’t read Ed’s content before, I highly recommend that you do. He’s one of the smartest guys I know (which is one of the many reasons why we choose to work with him). 

His blog is full of helpful, eye-opening articles that’ll get you thinking about investing in a whole new way. (And I’m not just saying this because he’s our financial planner—Ed really is amazing!)

Blogging update

September was an exciting month blog-wise—I finally made more than a few bucks in income!

google adsense 1909
Hooray—I finally reached the $100 AdSense payment threshold!

Googe AdSense

I finally reached the Adsense payment threshold of $100 (and I actually surpassed it by $19). Wow, it only took me 9 long months to get here! Ha ha. 

It’ll be a few weeks before I see the money though. I believe Google pays AdSense earnings on the third week of the following month.

While $119 isn’t much, it’s enormous for this still-new blogger. I hope it won’t take another 9 months to reach my next $100!

Referral income 

For the first time, I released some product reviews on the blog and saw some good results:


I’ve been loving the Flashfood app and finally had time to write a review to share it with all of you. For every person who signed up through my referral link, they received $5 and I received $7 in credits.

So far, I’ve received $21 in Flashfood credits—but I think they’re from my sister, mother-in-law, and my friend Shaidah! (There’s no way to know who signed up using my link, so I’m not sure if I’ve received any from readers.)

Hopefully there’ll be more credits coming my way in the future. But even if not, I’ll be happy just to help more people learn about Flashfood. The more who use it, the more food gets diverted from landfills… and that’s a very good thing.

Coast Capital Savings

It’ll be a while before I see any income from this, but I saw a total of 18 people signing up for a new Coast Capital account through my referral link! (Thank you to my readers who signed up and/or shared my review.) 

At $50 per sign-up, that could be a very nice payout! But I won’t count my chickens before they hatch. For various reasons (lack of user follow-through, technical issues, delays in processing) I estimate that 25–40% of the referrals won’t go through. 

Also, I’ll have to wait at least 60 days before I see any payout. The accounts first need to be opened (Coast Capital is quite backlogged on this). Then, each referral needs to fund their account with at least $100 and keep it open for at least 30 days. 

After all that, it’ll be another 30 days before Coast Capital finally sends me my referral bonuses! I’ll report back on how this worked out in a future post.

A fantastic new blog about blogging

If you’re like me, and always trying to improve your blogging game, you’ll love This Online World. (I discovered Tom and his blog through this post on my blogging buddy Graham’s Reverse the Crush blog.)

Tom is an excellent writer with a lot of useful info to share. I find his blogging articles especially useful because they’re inspiring for beginner (or close to beginner) bloggers.

As much as I love the Pat Flynns and Michelle Schroeder-Gardners of the blogging world, they’re SO far ahead of most of us. That makes it hard to relate to them. 

While Tom is definitely ahead of me, he’s not so far ahead that his accomplishments seem out of reach. If you’re in your first couple of years of blogging and looking for tips that’ll inspire instead of overwhelm, I highly recommend This Online World

Podcasting update

efic cover art 1200x1200

Money Mechanic, Ryan and I were busy with work and life in September so it was quiet on the podcast recording front. But we had a good backlog of recordings saved up, so we were still busy editing, writing show notes, and promoting new episodes.

In September, we released two excellent shows:

Episode 8: Archie from Toronto

We had a fun chat with Archie from Toronto, Ontario in this interview. She tells us how living in high-cost Downtown Toronto is a FI choice, and why she loves FI meetups (even if they’re expensive to attend).

Episode 9: Community Feedback

In this special episode, we give shout-outs to all our amazing listeners who’ve left comments, reviews, and sent emails. We also make a big announcement: EFIC will be starting a series of episodes based on my very own FI School

Stay tuned for more awesome interviews and actionable, educational content from EFIC!

Send us your feedback!

Blogging and podcasting can be difficult and gruelling—especially if you have no idea how much of an impact you’re making. It can feel like you’re typing/speaking into an abyss!

That said, we LOVE getting feedback from our listeners—even if it’s to question us or call us out on something. As we mentioned in our Community Feedback episode, all of your feedback helps us to improve and grow. So please, keep it coming!

Here’s how you can send us your feedback:

It all counts

Even if it’s just a quick message to say, “I loved it” or “This could’ve been better” we want to hear it! 

Thank you to everyone who has already commented, liked, shared, subscribed, etc. Your feedback is the fuel that keeps us going!

And that’s a wrap!

As always, I want to hear from you! Leave a comment below to tell me how September went for you. Was it a tough transition from summer to fall? Did you make any big money moves? Tell us about it!

Support this blog

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!) 

You can also support this blog by visiting my recommendations page and purchasing through the links. Note that not every link is an affiliate link—some are just favourite products and services that I want to share. 🙂

As always, however you show your support for this blog—THANK YOU!

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  • Reply
    Maria @ Handful of Thoughts
    October 14, 2019 at 6:13 am

    Love the updates. Congrats on hitting the $100 threshold for your Google Adsense and you achieved it in a month that was busy for you personally – great accomplishment.

    Thanks for the tip, as a newer blogger I will definitely check out This Online World.

    Looking forward to next month’s update.

    • Reply
      October 14, 2019 at 10:43 am

      Thanks Maria! It seemed like I’d never hit that first $100. It’s a small, but significant milestone. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 14, 2019 at 8:51 am

    Hi Chrissy,

    Awesome update! sounds like a tough month with catching the cold and all but congrats on hitting the Google Adsense threshold! That’s awesome 🙂 And thank you so much for the mention, I’m so flattered that my blogging posts are useful! Excited to see both of our blogs continue to grow!!

    • Reply
      October 14, 2019 at 10:44 am

      I’m also looking forward to following your blog’s growth and continuing to learn from you! I hope you’ll have a few new readers coming to you now.

  • Reply
    October 14, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Looks like it’s been a super eventful month! Rest up and hope things go smoothly for the remaining quarter of the year!

    • Reply
      October 14, 2019 at 10:45 am

      Thanks my friend! I also hope the remaining quarter is good to you.

  • Reply
    October 14, 2019 at 9:37 am

    Wow, what a busy month. Hopefully, you’ll have a slower October and November.
    September was super busy for me too. I had a ton of stuff on my to-do list. It’s better now and I’m looking forward to a relaxing fall.
    Great job on the blog income. Now, you need to find similar products to Coast Capital Saving and grow that side of the business. It works for your readers.
    Keep at it!

    • Reply
      October 14, 2019 at 10:46 am

      I love reading your updates, and hope we both have quieter months ahead!

      I so appreciate the encouragement from you. Your blog and the success you’ve seen are inspirational for me!

  • Reply
    Tara Naz
    October 14, 2019 at 9:40 am

    Hi Chrissy, do you have an referral link for Your Money or Your Life? I was going to use yours above to buy another copy, but it’s a US l think?

    • Reply
      October 14, 2019 at 10:48 am

      You are SO kind to think of me Tara! I recently updated my theme, which broke my Amazon code (it normally would send you to the .ca page automatically).

      Sorry about that and thanks for asking. Here’s the link:


  • Reply
    sherry @ save. spend. splurge.
    October 14, 2019 at 10:06 am

    I hate it when cards do that – roll back the benefits but then increase the cost like we aren’t going to notice.

    • Reply
      October 14, 2019 at 10:48 am

      I know, right?!

  • Reply
    Court @ Modern Fimily
    October 14, 2019 at 10:58 am

    Busy busy busy! It sounds like it’s time for a nice relaxing bubble bath! 🙂

    • Reply
      October 15, 2019 at 9:25 pm

      That sure would be nice! Especially now that endless rain has returned to Vancouver. 😭

  • Reply
    October 14, 2019 at 3:09 pm

    Wow! Super busy month yet you did lots for your blog and podcast! Love reading your updates 🙂 hopefully everyone is recovered from colds etc and October is calmer

    • Reply
      October 15, 2019 at 9:27 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Late Starter… I sure hope October will continue to be quieter! But I’m clearly not great at keeping my life under control as we have more house guests coming at the end of the month! I’ll give the report on that in my next update.

  • Reply
    October 14, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    It was great to read this update from you! You’re a few month (and $119!) ahead of me in beginner blogging. So I really enjoyed reading your successes!

    I had a busy August and September, and I try to remind myself that there are no ‘blogging police’ if I don’t get a post out when i’d like. And any deadlines are self-imposed. Maybe it’ll take me a bit longer but I’ll get there! And you will too.

    • Reply
      October 15, 2019 at 10:07 pm

      You’re so right about the blogging police. I have to remember that they only exist in my head! Yes, we’ll eventually reach our goals if we keep working at it. Thanks for the encouragement and reminders!

  • Reply
    Radical FIRE
    October 15, 2019 at 5:31 am

    That sounds like a crazy and great month at the same time! Congrats on the blogging milestones, that’s great to hear and so well deserved!

    • Reply
      October 15, 2019 at 10:08 pm

      Aww, thanks for the kind words M!

  • Reply
    October 15, 2019 at 6:43 am

    So much to fit in one month! Glad you’re feeling better. I love reading your monthly updates and seeing how you juggle blogging and daily living. I need to listen in to your podcasts. I’m not in the habit of listening to podcasts and I know I’m missing out on some good stuff. Hope October is treating you well 🙂

    • Reply
      October 15, 2019 at 11:02 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Ana! You’re either a podcast person or you’re not, and I won’t be upset in the least if you never listen to mine. 🙂

  • Reply
    Abigail @ipickuppennies
    October 15, 2019 at 9:24 am

    Ouchie on the card increases! Glad you got to have so much fun with Tanja though. I’ll be interested to hear about the new homestay students!

    • Reply
      October 15, 2019 at 11:03 pm

      Thanks Abigail—the students have already come and gone (they were very short-term)! I’ll fill everyone in with next month’s update.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2019 at 10:48 am

    Congratulations on the $100 milestone Chrissy, you deserve it 🙂

    • Reply
      October 15, 2019 at 11:04 pm

      You’re so kind. Thank you Kathleen!

  • Reply
    October 16, 2019 at 12:38 am

    Congrats on the Adsense payout! That’s very exciting and you will keep getting payouts on a monthly basis in no time! 9 months is pretty fast, IMO!

    Also, your dog is adorable!

    • Reply
      October 16, 2019 at 10:15 am

      Thank you for your encouragement GYM. It means so much!

  • Reply
    October 18, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    You had a lot of stuff going on in September, I don’t blame you for not having a lot of time for the blog last month. I’m doing some behind the scenes stuff with my blog this month so I won’t be doing much postings in October but I’ll get back to my routine in November.
    Congrats on your Google AdSense payout, getting that much for nine months is really fast. Keep at it Chrissy!

    • Reply
      October 20, 2019 at 1:08 am

      Hi Kris, it’s such a great idea to take time off from posting to deal with the behind-the-scenes stuff. I really need to commit to doing that too!

      Thank you for your ongoing support. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by the nicest bloggers on the internet!

  • Reply
    Reverse The Crush
    October 21, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    Hey Chrissy! Thanks for the shout out and congrats on the Adsense Money. It is always nice to get some extra money from blogging. I doubt it will take you another 9 months. Otherwise, sounds like a busy month. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Reply
      October 24, 2019 at 11:06 pm

      Graham: I always enjoy and learn so much about blogging from your posts, so thank you for sharing your knowledge!

  • Reply
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life
    October 25, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    Aw, I’m sorry you were knocked out for a couple weeks too! Kid germs are terrible 🙂

    I also hate non-routine weeks. I know that’s coming up in our future when JB goes off to school :/

    I’ve been keeping very busy working on sending supplies to our Lakota families (I’m collecting donations until Nov 17 from anyone who’s interested in participating!) this month. I did this over the holidays last year and would like to keep doing it every year if people are interested.

    • Reply
      October 28, 2019 at 10:06 am

      You’re wonderful to be raising money and buying supplies for these families. It’s so important to give back when and how we can. My husband also gets matching donations through his work, and PayPal charges us fees for donating in USD, so I’ll ask my husband to donate at work. Then the families will get more, rather than PayPal getting a cut! Thanks for letting us know about this charity.

  • Reply
    May 31, 2020 at 11:49 am

    Wow congrats on first 100$! But the fun you getting writing is worth $100 millions , I am sure!

    • Reply
      May 31, 2020 at 10:14 pm

      Thanks, FITrailHiker! You’re absolutely right—the fun of blogging is worth much more than that. Thanks for your comment.

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