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January 2020 Update

Mika loves walking in the snow!

Is it just me, or did January feel like a really long month? It seems like forever-ago that New Year’s happened! It was also a very snowy month (by Vancouver standards) and one of the darkest and wettest Januarys on record—ugh!

Well, February’s here, and I sure hope it brings some drier, brighter weather! For now, let’s kick off the new month with another Eat Sleep Breathe FI update post…

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Life update

Here’s what happened at the Eat Sleep Breathe FI household in January:

Dinner in lieu of Christmas gifts

As part of our goal to have greener, less-consumeristic Christmases, we asked our families to join us for dinner at our house in lieu of gifts. 

Since our relatives are all humongous foodies, they eagerly agreed to this giftless idea. And because we were all too busy (and full) in December, we planned the dinners1 for early January. 

Chinese hot pot

One of our favourite ways to feed a large group is Chinese hot pot. If you’ve never heard of hot pot, here’s a great post by Cooking Up FIRE

Hot pot is fun, social, and everyone gets to cook and eat exactly what they like. It’s also a relatively healthy option since we eat a lot of veggies and seafood with the meat.

Additionally, the food is cooked in a simple vegetable broth, seasonings are minimal, and the nature of the meal dictates that you eat slowly. These are all good things for healthy eating!

A frugal choice

Hot pot is also a frugal meal: our per-person cost worked out to about $3 (that includes some pricey thin-cut meats and big appetites!) 

If we were to have lunch at a hot pot restaurant, the cost would be at least $15 per person. Add 5% PST (provincial sales tax) and a 15% tip, and the final total would be $18 per person. 

If we were to have dinner at a hot pot restaurant, the cost per person would be closer to $30! By buying and prepping our own food and hosting the dinner at home, we saved 83–90% compared to eating out. Wow.

These hot pot dinners have become a fun holiday event and we plan to continue this giftless tradition for many years to come.

New Year’s potlucks x 2

January was a busy, food-filled month! Not only did we host two hot pot dinners, but we also celebrated two separate New Years—January 1st and Chinese New Year. We hosted a potluck lunch on January 1st, and my sister hosted a potluck dinner on Chinese New Year.

Like Mrs. Frugalwoods, we love potlucks! With my side of the family (our dad, my sister with her family, and my brother with his family) we always do potlucks when we get together. It’s fun and frugal, and makes it easier to get together more often. 

My sister is a pescatarian, so she usually brings a fish or seafood dish. The rest of us bring the meat and veggies. We all pitch in with dessert and drinks while the host cooks the rice.

As always, we and the kids have lots of fun catching up and indulging in everyone’s delicious cooking. It’s also more relaxed for everyone to be able to eat at home rather than at a restaurant. (Still—we all enjoy eating out and are happy to do so occasionally.)

Second-generation FIRE gone wrong?

Kid 1 and I recently had a heart-to-heart (if you have a grumpy teen, you know how precious these kinds of talks are!) And I discovered—to my delight and dismay—that he’s really internalized and bought into FIRE. #secondgenerationFIRE

He told me he was already thinking about how to reach FIRE; how he could probably get there in his 30s; which education and career path would lead him there; etc. Clearly, he’d been thinking about it quite a bit!

I was both proud and worried when he told me all this. I was proud because he really gets what FIRE could mean for him. But I was also worried because I don’t want FIRE to influence his life decisions quite so much. (He is only 14 after all!)

I expressed all this to Kid 1, and told him I want him to live his life and just enjoy being a kid. He has decades to pursue FIRE and is already on a good path. I told him there’s no need to look at all of life’s decisions through a FIRE lens… and he agreed.

Moderating the FIRE

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to learn so much about the FIRE journey from others—it’s not just about getting to the end goal ASAP. And now I can share that knowledge with my kids and help them reach their goals while also living their best lives.

I’ll continue to discuss FIRE openly with my kids, but will be more careful about moderating the message. Even though I’m obsessed with all things FI, I don’t want them to be overly influenced by it just yet! For now, I’ll focus on instilling good money habits in them. FI will fall into place when they’re ready.

Hold on to your kids

My conversation with Kid 1 reminded me again how important it is to connect with our kids as often as we can. The night we had this talk, it was past his bedtime, I was tired, and there were still plenty of chores left to do.

But I consciously chose to drop everything to sit with him, chat, and enjoy his company. These moments don’t happen often enough, so I grab them when they do. Fortunately, my husband is of the same mind. 

He and Kid 1 also had a good chat recently, which prompted me to post this on Instagram: 

View this post on Instagram

Hold on to your kids... . This is my longest IG post yet, but it's so important and I hope you'll read it through. . Last night, I was reminded of the power of the parenting philosophy in this wonderful book. . At bedtime, my husband had a long, heart-to-heart chat with 14YO Kid 1. (Kid 1 and I talk all the time, but sometimes a teenage boy needs his dad—or another trusted male—to confide in). . The things Kid 1 revealed (worries, fears, comparisons he was making to his friends) were all typical teenage things. . Some of the things he asked/revealed were deeply personal, yet he openly and unabashedly talked about them with my husband. . There was no shame, no embarrassment. Just talking, son to dad. Both ended the conversation feeling more bonded and Kid 1 felt loved, accepted, and supported. . This deep trust and connection didn't form overnight. It takes time and a whole lot of intentional effort to maintain a positive connection with your kids as they grow up. . But the teenage years are when it really pays off (and when they especially need our guidance). I've seen so many other teens, despite coming from loving homes, become disconnected from their parents as they lose themselves in their peer groups. . It's heartbreaking to see the consequences (and it's not what you'd expect, from the affluent, educated neighborhood we live in). . Someone once told me that one of the most important jobs in this world—that will change the world and society at large—is to raise our children well. . It's a big job, but help is out there and it's freely available! Go to your local library and peruse the parenting section—you'll find all the instruction you need there. . While you're there, look for my very favourite parenting book of all: "Hold On To Your Kids". If you're a parent and haven't read it, please do it now! It's the best investment in your child(ren) you'll ever make. #holdontoyourkids #attachmentparenting #parenting #parentingwisdom #kidsneedmorethanlove #raisingteens #ilovemyteen #ilovemyteenager #parentsoverpeers

A post shared by Chrissy | FI Blogger (@eatsleepbreathefi) on

If you’re a parent and take nothing else from my Instagram post, please read the book and take the core message from it: Hold On To Your Kids. Be present with them. Be the compass and guiding light in their lives. It takes time and commitment, but it’s worth every second!

Related read: The Sadness of Motherhood

Financial update

Wow—we’re nearly 900 words in and I haven’t even updated you on our money moves. Let’s dig in:

Getting a new mortgage

Our mortgage/investment loan with Manulife is up for renewal in mid-February, which meant it was time to do some rate shopping. Thankfully, our financial planner Ed helps with this (for free—even for non-clients!)

However, if you’ve ever had to apply for a mortgage, you know it can be a drawn-out, multi-stage process. Even with Ed’s help and guidance, there was still a lot to deal with. 

We ended up going with BMO for the mortgage, but it’s taken weeks of forms, emails and back-and-forth just to get the rate and loan amount settled. As I write this, things are still not finalized! (But we’re almost there.)

After all is said and done, we’ll get to borrow slightly more2 at a lower rate. That makes it worth the hassle and fees to switch from Manulife to BMO. I’m looking forward to having this all tied up by the end of the month!

Year-end financial tasks

January is always a busy but fun month for me—it’s when I update all our financial spreadsheets! Here are the four spreadsheets I track and update every year:

1. Our retirement contributions

I track the contributions to our RRSPs (aka 401Ks) and TFSAs (aka Roth IRAs) throughout the year to ensure we don’t over-contribute. At the end of the year, I go into the spreadsheet to double-check the numbers and enter a final number for my husband’s group RRSP contributions. 

I also copy over the current year’s sheet to start a new one for next year. When I do this, I have to update the year and some formulas in the new sheet. 

Since I’m not great at spreadsheets or numbers, I’m a bit slow at this. I really have to concentrate and take my time so I don’t make a mistake. Thankfully, even though it’s not the easiest task for me, I find it gratifying and fun—so it’s not all bad!

2. Our investments

On the last day of each month, I enter the final balance from each of our investment accounts. And at the end of the year, I get to calculate our gain for the year. 2019 was great—we ended with a 20% increase in liquid net worth3 over 2018! 

Note: while most of this gain was due to the stock market’s amazing performance in 2019, the percentage doesn’t accurately reflect our actual investment gains. That’s because I’m lazy and include our contributions in this calculation. 😬

3. Our annual spending

This is always my favourite spreadsheet to update (yes, I’m a total nerd). I love seeing how much we spent over the last year and comparing it to previous years. Most of the time, I’m pleasantly surprised to find that our numbers stayed the same or went down.

Fortunately, YNAB makes it really easy to complete this task. Using their reports function, I can quickly go through and update each category in my spreadsheet.

We did well in 2019 and decreased our core spending by about $1,300! That surprised me since I felt we’d already reduced our core spending as much as we could—I guess not!

Revealing our annual spending

I’m debating whether I should finally reveal our annual spending here on the blog. I think it could be interesting and helpful to others, and helpful for me to get your feedback.

I’ve been hesitant to do this because it would essentially reveal our net worth. (That’s because we all know the 4% rule and how to use our annual spending to calculate our FI number!)

I’m still not (and may never be) comfortable with sharing our net worth—hence my reluctance. But I think I have a solution… 

A possible compromise?

I could reveal our core spending (groceries, gas, utilities, etc.) and exclude discretionary expenses (travel, entertainment, gifts, etc.) My annual spending reports will still be helpful and continue to give us a bit of privacy.

I’ll continue to mull this over…

Do you share your annual spending? Would you find it useful if I revealed ours? Let me know in the comments below!

4. Our annual savings rate

This has always my least-favourite spreadsheet to update. In fact, I got so frustrated with it this year that I’ve decided that I’m done with tracking our savings rate! Here’s why:

Why our savings rate is too hard to track

I’ve tracked our savings rate for years, but these factors have become too aggravating to deal with:

  • There are too many variables.
  • It’s too time-consuming and mind-bending to accurately calculate our savings rate.
  • It takes too long to track cashback from our credit cards and rebate sites.
  • I never know how to factor in leftover cash from the year before. 
  • My husband’s stock options are very hard to track because:
    1. Some are sold and reinvested.
    2. Some are sold and used for cashflow.
    3. Some are held for a long time.

As you can see, there are a lot of factors to deal with! After spending hours on this spreadsheet and still not getting any closer to an accurate number, I called it quits. 

To remind myself in future years why I made this decision, I wrote a list of reasons. Anytime I question myself for not calculating our savings rate, I’ll remember this list:

Why I’m okay with not tracking our savings rate

  • It only takes a few minutes to figure out our approximate savings rate.
  • Having an approximate savings rate is good enough for me!
  • Knowing our savings rate neither motivates nor influences us to save more. That’s because we’re saving as much as we can all the time. 
  • I can redirect my time to more valuable or enjoyable tasks. 

Conclusion

While it was fun to see where we landed with our savings rate, I was never satisfied with the results. That’s because I knew some info was missing or inexact—which meant the final number wasn’t accurate.

I decided that my rough estimate (which takes a few minutes to pull together) was close enough. It’s not worth the hours and headaches to get a more-accurate number. Instead, I’ll redirect my time and energy to other things—like blogging!

Spending update

Our spending was relatively low in January… except for two large expenditures:

We spent way too much on a new vacuum

Our 20-year-old Kenmore vacuum recently kicked the bucket… which meant it was time to shop for a new vacuum. As with any large purchase, this meant a lot of careful research and consideration.

We searched to the ends of the internet and kept coming back to one brand: Miele. It’s the only vacuum brand that stood up to every test of value, quality, and effectiveness. Their vacuums are as close to perfection as vacuums get!

The $999 vacuum that we didn’t want to buy

The Rolls Royce of vacuums

The only problem with Mieles is their high quality comes with a high price—$999! (That’s why I say Mieles are the Rolls Royce of vacuums—they’re super fancy and super expensive.)

As nice as Mieles may be, who wants to spend $999 on a vacuum?! Not me! $999 could buy us 1.25 plane tickets to Japan. Or a whole lot of meals out. Or even a short family road trip! Nope, I wasn’t down with a $999 vacuum, so we aggressively searched for other options.

The alternatives

Buying used

Being the eco frugalist that I am, I always try to buy used first. Unfortunately, this option didn’t work out for us. The vacuums on the used market were mostly low end. That meant they’d break down quickly and didn’t have a motorized brush head to vacuum Mika’s fur (or my long hair).

There were a few higher-end vacuums on offer, including some Mieles. But the prices were similar to sale prices of brand-new models. Obviously, this would not have been worth it. Used vacuums turned out to be a bust.

Buying a cheaper new vacuum

The next option we pursued was to buy new, but at a lower price point. This also proved to be unsatisfactory. Cheaper vacuums tend to have poor reviews and lack power and durability.

They’d also end up costing more in the long run since we’d have to replace them every two to three years (based on what reviewers said). There’s also the huge environmental cost of all that e-waste. I’m not down with that.

Installing a central vacuum

Since our house is already wired and piped for a central vac, we though this would be a great option. However, these vacuums came with iffy reviews and prices that were just as high as the Mieles.

Additionally, we had no idea if we’d be happy with a central vac—opinions on the internet were pretty divided. Some people loved them, but just as many hated them! We didn’t want to risk the time and money to finish the piping and outlets only to find we didn’t even like central vacs. 

So there went our final option… and we were back to the Miele. It really was the best option for our needs and expectations, and now we knew it!  

Paying less than retail

At this point, my focus went to figuring out how to avoid paying full price for this vacuum. If you know me, that’s where I’m a viking! (If you’re a Simpsons fan, you’ll get the reference. Ha ha! Note: that’s a video clip with audio.)

Long story short, I took advantage of discounts and cashback and paid only $659 for the vacuum—34% off the full price! For those who’d like to know more, I’ll detail how I did this in an upcoming post (this vacuum story is long enough!)

Was it worth it?

After all that, you’re probably wondering if the Miele was worth it. The answer: YES! While it was painful to spend so much on a vacuum, it’s true to its reputation. Our Miele is lighter, quieter, better-built and far more powerful than any vacuum we’ve ever owned.

As a test, we vacuumed our carpeted hallway with my in-laws’ Kenmore. Then we ran over the same area with the Miele… and were shocked at the results. The tank quickly filled up with dust and hair (from what we thought was clean carpet!) It was totally gross but also really impressive.

Based on the hundreds of glowing reviews across the internet, I fully expect that our new Miele will give us many years of trouble-free use.

Kid 2’s outdoor school fee

Recently, I had to write a $280 cheque for Kid 2 to go on a three-night outdoor school field trip. That wasn’t a huge deal since I’d anticipated the expense and had saved up for it. 

But what was notable was that our school will only take cash or cheques as payment, and I didn’t feel comfortable paying the $280 in cash. So a cheque it was. Having to write the cheque reminded me again of how much I hate cheques! (I even complained about it on this episode of Explore FI Canada.)  

We’ve also needed cheques for setting up new accounts, gifting larger sums of money (e.g. wedding gifts) and paying for our life insurance premium.

I’d love to simplify my life and only use EQ Bank for all my banking, but they don’t offer cheques. That means I have no choice but to keep another account open just for cheques—sigh. 

If you’ve found creative ways to avoid cheques, let me know!

And that’s a wrap!

I want to hear from you—tell me how your January was. I hope it was warmer and drier than ours! 

Should I reveal our annual spending? Which of our spending categories would you be most interested in? Also: do you track your savings rate and does it give you a headache too?

Let me know in the comments below!

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34 Comments

  • Reply
    Tawcan
    February 11, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    We have a Mieles vacuum too although it cost a lot less than $999. We love it and still use it even though we have central vac at our place.

    That’s awesome your kids are interested in FIRE. Have you thought about opening a portfolio for them (outside of RESP). See here:
    https://www.tawcan.com/creating-legacy-dividend-portfolio-kids/

    Yea tracking savings rate can be complicated… track net worth is way easier. 🙂

  • Reply
    Chrissy
    February 11, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    I think this is the quickest comment I’ve ever received after publishing a post! You get the fastest commenter award, Bob! LOL. Interesting that you have a central vac yet still bought a Miele… why is that?

    Re: FIRE for my kids, they’ve been VERY fortunate to have received generous cash gifts from family throughout their lives. It’s enough that it’s very much worthwhile to invest it carefully. Thanks for sharing your article. I remember reading it a while back and will definitely revisit!

    Savings rate tracking makes me want to pull my hair out! Glad I’m not the only one that finds it complicated.

  • Reply
    Amy
    February 11, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    My hubby feels the same about sharing our actual numbers for net worth and such. I care a lot less, mostly because I’m a public servant so my salary is public anyway…

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      February 11, 2020 at 3:10 pm

      Amy—thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’d originally wanted to blog completely anonymously so that I could share ALL our numbers. But it’s more fun to be semi-anonymous! So… since some people I know IRL read my blog, and it’s so ingrained in me to keep our numbers private, I’ll have to find a compromise.

      That’s interesting how as a public servant your salary is available for all the world to see. How do you feel about that? Is it a good thing? Does it affect career advancement and promotions? I suppose it helps to keep things more transparent and fair.

      • Amy
        February 13, 2020 at 1:18 pm

        Honestly I don’t care about the salary being public. I’ve been a public servant since university (started as a student) so I’ve never known any other option. In theory it leads to a more transparent and fair process, in terms of equal pay for equal work. My hubby on the other hand works in the private sector and would never share his salary / bonuses (and he actually gets bonuses unlike my public servant self). Personal preference and comfort level – I respect that.

        The way I look at it, lots of financial info about people is available if you really care to put in the effort and find out. House prices for example, once sold you can view the last sold price and who bought it via land registry and so on. If people care enough to find out, power to them 😉 I don’t have time on my hands to worry about that, given that the information helps them in exactly 0 ways lol

      • Chrissy
        February 14, 2020 at 12:56 pm

        Amy—I like the transparency of publicly-listed salaries and agree that it could lead to a fairer process. If that was implemented in the private sector, I wonder if we’d have more equitable salary distribution? 🤔

        I agree that a lot of our info is already out there and I also have no time to worry about safeguarding all of it (even if that was possible)! Thanks for adding your two cents. It’s an interesting discussion.

  • Reply
    Shaidah
    February 11, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    Hi Chrissy!
    Same as Amy- My salary is public information, I have no choice because the info is out there for the world to see. I have no issue sharing my spending values. If you are comfortable sharing this then do it, but if you aren’t then don’t. I do think it would be helpful for similar families (2 adults and 2 teen boys).

    Agree with Tawcan- Track net worth. I have been tracking that since 2016, and never even thought of tracking savings rate back then. Learning that firewalkers place emphasis on tracking their savings rate has me baffled on how to do this.

    I include my primary residence in my net worth and I know many don’t. But we plan to move to a lower cost of living area when/if our home sells. Since I like to be a bit on the conservative side for net worth, I take BC assessments Value for all my real estate that is provided on January 1, that is from July 1 of the previous year, and I inflate it by 3% and divide that inflation amount by 12 and add it to each month until next January1. Its a bit complicated but what matters is that you are consistent in the calculations and comparing yourself to yourself in previous years. Anyways, my calculation of my networth went down 13% because real estate mostly all went down in value (my home went down 20% which is great news for property taxes hopefully!!)

    We have always had central vac, and its great because the hose is lightweight and the vacuum noise is all in the garage. But we also got a Neato robot vac about 5 years ago and it is still going strong. I do enjoy coming home to clean floors but sometimes it gets confused and goes in circles and then back to the base for charging. I think Robot Vacs age like pets. 5 year old robot vac is like 25 year old vacuum. Hopefully technology continues to improve as I would get another in 5 years.

    Thanks for your post, it was a fun read!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      February 12, 2020 at 11:34 pm

      Shaidah—what a detailed and helpful comment. Your feedback (along with that of others) helps to solidify my decision to share select categories of our spending. As you say, it could be helpful to those in a similar situation to ours.

      I don’t include our home in our net worth but it makes complete sense how and why you do it. I always enjoy hearing about how others track their finances. It helps me see if there’s anything we could do better or differently.

      Your comments about your robot vacuum made me laugh. It sounds like a cute, elderly dog. 🙂 I’ve only ever heard good things about these vacuums. We’ll definitely consider one if vacuuming becomes too much of a chore. (But we have our own version of robot vacuums—children. Ha ha. Ours are old enough to do that now, so we’re putting them to work!)

      Thanks for coming by the blog and sharing your experience, my friend! You always have something interesting to share/teach me.

  • Reply
    Kris
    February 11, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    I vote to reveal your core spending like your everyday stuff. This way you can see if you are spending too much on a certain category. I don’t mind showing my core expenses every month. I was already doing monthly personal income statements before I started my blog so it was an easy transition to put it on there. And plus I love going through them every month to be aware what we did. So if you can muster the effort to track your core expenses then I would say do it.
    With the savings rate, it can be complicated especially when you factor in your retirement contributions and any capital gains in your stocks but I just factor in our paychecks we receive from work and our expenses to make it simple. I know it’s not an exact rate but it’s in the ballpark and that’s fine by me.
    With the vacuum, that’s really impressive you had one for 20 years. You got your money’s worth and then some. We’re in year 8 of our Shark vacuum and hopefully it will as long as your old one. I heard of Miele recently since we’re shopping for a car vacuum(definitely a need for us since TwC scatters his snacks on the car floor a lot) and yeah it really is an expensive vacuum but it’s really good quality. Sounds like you really love it so far so hopefully that it will last long and powerful for a decade…or two…or maybe three!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      February 12, 2020 at 11:47 pm

      Kris—your monthly spending reports were part of the inspiration for me to share our spending. I find it so interesting to compare our high-cost Vancouver expenses to your high-cost San Fransisco expenses. I’d like to do the same for my readers—if only for curiosity’s sake!

      However, I’m so slow with writing my updates that I won’t be able to keep up with monthly reports like you! I’ll give an annual review a stab… let’s see how that goes. 😉

      I agree that a ballpark savings rate is good enough. I like how you do it and plan to continue on with a similar calculation as yours.

      With the vacuum, you’re absolutely right that we got our money’s worth with our Kenmore. Those things are tanks and last forever! If Sears hadn’t gone out of business, we would’ve bought another Kenmore. Too bad.

      Let’s see if this Miele makes it to 20 years. 30 would be amazing! (The Shark would’ve been tops on our list too as it’s highly-rated and well-priced. Unfortunately, it didn’t have some of the features we needed.)

  • Reply
    Triple B
    February 11, 2020 at 5:55 pm

    If you are a private person by nature I can see it being hard to publish your info, once it’s on the internet it’s there for life. I published mine here: https://byebuyboss.com/walk-a-while-in-my-wallet-1/. I thought it would be fun to compare them to the national average. Perhaps you could do something like that and just say its whatever percent less than average, or compare it to a friends? By publishing mine it forced me to think about why I actually spent that much! I think itll help encourage me to strive to lower the numbers and perhaps help others have a reference point.
    As to the vacuum, what are your thoughts on the Dyson’s that everyone is in love with? Great post!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      February 12, 2020 at 11:57 pm

      Triple B—thanks for coming by to comment. I read your post and loved it. Thanks for sharing. I’m slowly making my way through your blog. You’ve got some good stuff there!

      From what I read in your spending post, it sounds like you’re doing great. I’m impressed with all the big spending reductions you’ve made.

      And this is why I’ve pretty much decided I’m doin’ it and will reveal our spending (most of it at least). It’s fun and inspiring to learn how much others spend in different parts of the country/world.

      As for my thoughts on Dysons, I really want to like them, but there are enough bad reviews that I’ve been scared off of them. I also know a few people IRL who own Dyson vacuums and weren’t at all impressed.

      It’s too bad—I’d love to support the company because I love how they’re always trying to innovate and do things outside of the box. (As a FI-seeker, I really appreciate that drive to be different!)

  • Reply
    Latestarterfire
    February 12, 2020 at 12:56 am

    Kung hei fatt choy! I had 2 New Years too – so much feasting and celebrating – aren’t we lucky? I love hot pot too – a lot of fun to cook your food at the table while you chat with everyone.

    I feel the same about publishing net worth on the internet – once it’s out there, it’s out there. I may change my mind later, but right now I will not be publishing it.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      February 13, 2020 at 9:08 am

      Late Starter—Kung hei fatt choy to you too! I enjoyed reading your post about how your family celebrates Chinese New Year. I also didn’t know about the symbolism of many of the dishes you’d mentioned, so it was a fun and educational read! It seems most bloggers are divided on sharing net worth and numbers. I doubt that I’ll ever share our net worth. But the comments here have helped me see I can share most of our spending numbers without revealing too much. I’m looking forward to writing that post!

  • Reply
    Radical FIRE
    February 12, 2020 at 2:16 am

    I love reading your updates, seems like an eventful and fun month!

    Personally I don’t mind putting my spending and income out there, that is something that I also discuss with my friends. Just my net worth is something I’m not comfortable with at this time. There are some people that are reading my blog that I know IRL and once you publish it there is no going back.

    Regarding savings rate, I do not own a house or a car at this moment, so this is easy. Simply expenses divided by income. I should include my pension contributions as well, but I’m too lazy for that at this moment in time. Given the fact that according to law I have to work until 72, I’d rather not take it into account in my savings.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      February 13, 2020 at 9:20 am

      Hey Radical FIRE, it’s nice to see you here. I was jealously following your travels through South America, but also look forward to more of your regular content now that you’re back home!

      Thanks for your feedback on revealing net worth and spending and calculating your savings rate. I personally would be okay with sharing my income (I guess I do, with my blog reports) but since the majority of our household income is my husband’s it’s not my place to reveal it! So I’ll have to keep that private.

      Wow—you have to work until 72 to get your pension? That’s a loooong working career. Is there any way around it? Could you take a penalty and quit working earlier?

  • Reply
    The Fire Journey
    February 12, 2020 at 3:44 am

    Thanks for sharing your update!
    I am putting that book on my reading list for my future self when we have kids.
    We have a Dyson vacuum and absolutely love it. We bought it from kijiji. I think a good vacuum is worth the splurge!
    As for sharing your numbers, I would only share what you are comfortable with. We are comfortable with sharing everything, but we are not sharing who we are. I had someone reach out the other day and say how much they appreciated seeing numbers because they enjoy seeing more people in Canada sharing their numbers.
    We just started tracking our savings rate this year and we are keeping it super simple! So far it is motivating and I agree you should only track numbers that motivate you towards your goals.
    Really enjoyed reading your update!
    ~The Fire Journey

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      February 13, 2020 at 9:34 am

      The Fire Journey—you’re lucky to have found a Dyson on Kijiji. I didn’t come across any used ones in our search, and the used Mieles I did find were almost as expensive as new! Not worth it.

      As a FIRE blog reader myself, I agree with your reader that it’s helpful to see how much other Canadians spend. This is my biggest motivation for finally revealing our spending numbers and I’m excited to finally put ours out there so we can all compare notes.

      I enjoyed tracking our savings rate over the last five years. Like you, I found it to be very motivational until the last year or two. I think my motivation has decreased now because I’ve gone through our budget so many times and I know there’s not much else to slash! That means our savings rate will be more or less the same going forward. As you’re doing, I’ll keep it simple with a basic calculation—just to make sure we’re not going off the rails!

      Thanks for your kind words and for coming by to comment!

  • Reply
    Cathleen Cooks Stuff
    February 12, 2020 at 8:51 am

    Thanks for the shout out about the hot pot! As for checks (as we like to spell it here in ‘Murica), my credit union offers free mailed checks straight from them. I can set up an auto payment or a one-time payment and they send it from my account for free (including stamps). As for the vacuum, I feel your pain- I do seriously want a higher end vacuum…and this is someone talking that has 3 dysons (1 was free, and 2 bought)…that are 2/3 dying. I’d try to negotiate the price more for the used versions- that’s a fantastic feature…if it’s been sitting around, you can ask if they can do a better price. This also has the benefit of flexing your negotiating muscles for the really important stuff, like asking for a raise, negotiating a price for a car, or a house.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      February 13, 2020 at 9:48 am

      Cathleen—hello to you in ‘Murica! LOL. I’m so envious that you live in Hawaii, one of my favourite places on Earth. Sigh—maybe one day we’ll figure out a way to live there!

      Dysons seem to be really hit or miss. If they work well and you don’t get a lemon, they’re fantastic. Too bad there’s no way to know which you’ll get when you buy. That’s such a great point about negotiating the price on used items. I used to be really shy about this, but have gotten better at it as I get older and care less and less what others think of me!

      Thanks for coming by to comment. 🙂

  • Reply
    Ryan Myricks
    February 12, 2020 at 9:50 am

    I think it’d be a great idea to reveal your fixed expenses or something thereof that you’re comfortable with while still being transparent and not leaving out your car costs (because you own 3 – you gotta fess up to that)! The rule I used is if it happens at least once a year, it’s a fixed cost and can be easily calculated.

    To be honest Chrissy, I think most of us in the FIRE space can simply assume your networth is around $750k – $1.25 million bucks. Keep in mind people, even as Chrissy’s cohost I’m not privy to anything. The standard early retiree is spending $30-50k a year and I think a lot of us hover around that spending, some below and some above, but still – we’re all pretty dang rich if we’re nearing that FIRE number. Even as your podcast co-host, I don’t know what exactly you spend or what your networth is but to be honest, I’m not sure I’d be surprised to hear the answer. We’re all very similar!

    One last thing about revealing fixed expenses – I actually prefer this because I don’t care what your discretionary spending is. We value different things so your spending won’t be applicable to mine. Some of your hobbies might cost a lot more than mine but to each their own.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      February 13, 2020 at 9:59 am

      Ryan—thanks for coming by to comment, even though you’re on a break from blogging/podcasting! I agree that most of us in the FIRE space are pretty similar in our spending and net worth. Still, I’m learning that where we live can make a HUGE difference in our fixed costs.

      For example, Court at Modern FImily was shocked at how much we pay for gas and insurance here compared to Alberta. Even if I frugaled our budget to death, fixed costs like those could only be decreased by moving—which isn’t an option!

      So what I’m trying to say is that I totally agree with you: sharing our fixed costs is a good thing for me and my readers. It’ll be interesting, educational, and a great way for me and others to get a clearer picture of how much it costs to live in different areas of Canada and the world. Thanks for helping me to clarify why and what I’ll share. 🙂

  • Reply
    DGX Capital
    February 12, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    Hey Chrissy,

    Great post! I have to say, I thought Dyson Vacuums were expensive until I saw your screenshot about the Miele. They seem so amazing but never been able to pull the plug on one of them.

    Although I haven’t yet written about my net worth on my blog, I just did a post on what’s in my portfolio as I get a lot of questions about it when I mention the fact that I invest exclusively through ETFs.

    -DGX Capital

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      February 13, 2020 at 10:06 am

      DGX Capital—I love that we as bloggers are able to help others by sharing our finances. I personally gain a lot from reading other bloggers’ posts about their portfolio holdings, spending patterns, etc. It’s so different to learn the strategies and reasons behind a real person’s decisions rather than getting that same info from a big corporation. I guess it’s more relatable, which makes it easier to apply the knowledge to your own life. Thanks for the comment!

  • Reply
    Maria @ Handful of Thoughts
    February 13, 2020 at 5:31 am

    I have mixed feelings about revealing numbers. At first I didn’t want to reveal our numbers but my husband was very open to it. We had learned a lot from other people’s openness and transparency and his thought was I should be just as open to help others.

    That being said I think blogs can be very helpful without revealing everything.

    I know that some people I know read my blog and will see what I post. But I’m also an advocate for open money conversations so decided to reveal some of our numbers to provide a clear picture.

    As for savings rate, I have never been to strict with calculating ours but will be better with it this year as one of my goals. That being said at the end of the year I will probably be happy with a ballpark number as opposed to spending hours calculating a specific one.

    Great post, love following the updates.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      February 13, 2020 at 10:14 am

      Maria—I agree with your husband. The transparency of other bloggers has helped me so much in our FI journey, and I’d love to pay it forward. Your comment (along with pretty much everyone else’s!) has me 100% certain in my decision to share an annual spending report. (And that it can be helpful even if I don’t share everything.)

      I look forward to hearing what you decide as far as calculating your savings rate. I wish math and Excel weren’t as hard for me as they are. I’d love nothing more than to figure out our savings rate down to the penny! But my brain power and knowledge is severely lacking, so I’ll have to settle for a basic, close-enough number!

      As always, thanks for coming by to comment.

  • Reply
    Judy Denham
    February 13, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    Hi Chrissy
    You said you’d like to be able to write cheques on your EQ bank account. Well, I just read an article in the Financial Post which says that Wealthsimple is going to be opening Wealthsimple Cash in a couple of months. It’ll be a spending and saving account with 2.40 % interest. There’ll be a debit card with it. I’m assuming you’ll also be able to use cheques although it didn’t mention that.
    I’m quiet excited about this and am planning to use it for my cash that I keep on hand to pay bills.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      February 14, 2020 at 12:58 pm

      Judy—thanks for sharing this info! I’d heard about Wealthsimple’s 2.40% interest rate, but didn’t know there was an attached debit card. If they also added cheques, it would be an ideal option as a hybrid saving/chequing account. I’ll be watching for news on this! Thanks again for sharing.

  • Reply
    Bob Wen
    February 13, 2020 at 11:22 pm

    Hi Chrissy, here are some numbers to ponder (I hope the formatting survives):

    Year Living Savings Rate with Net
    End Expenses Rate Mortgage Worth Comments
    1997 55,857 5% 7% 54,142
    1998 39,784 13% 31% 68,749
    1999 39,942 12% 29% 91,155
    2000 45,900 10% 23% 101,893
    2001 52,377 12% 26% 109,184
    2002 53,639 13% 28% 127,959
    2003 52,745 13% 28% 148,837
    2004 46,401 13% 28% 190,259
    2005 49,306 15% 29% 238,005
    2006 67,483 17% 28% 284,610
    2007 56,833 17% 29% 357,181
    2008 81,116 18% 29% 394,901
    2009 71,417 19% 32% 464,875
    2010 68,919 19% 32% 551,618
    2011 74,883 5% 18% 637,344
    2012 80,875 16% 29% 737,459 <- Got serious about our money
    2013 71,582 -9% 37% 856,345 <- Used investment to attack mortgage
    2014 57,034 27% 51% 1,002,565 <- Mortgage free
    2015 74,310 23% 23% 1,143,356
    2016 59,407 44% 44% 1,300,063 <- Found FIRE
    2017 65,526 63% 63% 1,533,850
    2018 53,876 54% 54% 1,697,317
    2019 48,351 50% 50% 1,960,391
    Today: 50% 2,089,403 <- We have reached our goal

    Notes:
    – The Living Expenses do not include the mortgage payments. I considered the payments like investing, even if it never appreciated in value.
    – Our Net Worth includes the value of our house, which is about $360K today.
    – We had three young children in 1997. In 2019 two of them (adults) are still living at home – they cover about half of their own food bill.

    We are late REers, but still earlier than many people.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      February 14, 2020 at 1:09 pm

      Bob—you’re awesome to share your numbers here! It looks like your formatting mostly survived (well, it’s clear enough anyway)! Thank you for commenting with this info. It’s helpful for others to see, especially since you have kids and are late REers. (But only by FIRE standards!)

      I am super impressed with your achievements. It shows a number of things:

      1) Consistent effort combined with time will get you to your financial goals.

      2) Awareness can help so much with acceleration towards our goals.

      3) The power of compounding is truly magical.

      Congratulations on all your success! You’re an inspiration and I hope you’ve been able to share your wins and lessons learned with people you know in real life.

      • Bob Wen
        February 16, 2020 at 9:38 am

        Thank you, Chrissy.

        Your observations about our data are spot on. Here’s a few of my own observations:

        – It took us 14 years living a typical middle-class lifestyle of earn and spend to increase our net-worth by $583,000. During that time, we kept making our mortgage payments, paying into our work pension plans, and buying into our respective employer’s stock plans.

        – From when we became serious about our financial situation, it took us just 7 years to further increase our net-worth by $1,323,000.

        – From the day I first heard of FIRE, and binge-read absolutely anything and everything I could find on the subject, which was March 2016, to today (four years), our net-worth increased by $850,000.

        These gains have not come easy. We put in a lot of effort, and I’ve been fanatical about planning our spending and investing every last penny. Truth be told, I’m tired, and we’ll keep going for about another six months or so, and then we’re done. What comes next is unknown – we just need a break. Our retirement plan provides for a 40% increase in our annual spending. Most of it will go on experiences and visiting family, albeit that is an experience in itself. I’m thinking a lot about what I can do after retiring to help others sort out their finances, as I do with our kids and my friends at work. I’m just not sure yet what I’ll do, but I’m looking forward to whatever adventures comes next.

        Great website and blog – keep it up

  • Reply
    Chris @ Mindful Explorer
    February 14, 2020 at 8:47 am

    Let’s hope that you can work out that vacuum cost over 20 years like the Kenmore. Honestly all the products from Sears were amazing and they had real quality. Ok enough with that, glad you are happy with how the year went and met the objectives you set out. As for sharing expenses, I would only do that if you guys need some accountability support to meet goals of driving costs down.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      February 14, 2020 at 1:18 pm

      Chris—Sears products are fantastic. Most of our hand tools are Craftsman and I suspect they’ll outlast us, and even our kids! Re: sharing our expenses, I feel like we’ve done all we can, but as our friend Ryan Myricks has shown (https://www.canadianfire.ca/2019/06/under-construction.html) it’s possible to live on much less than we do! I’m excited to post some of our numbers to get feedback and support.

  • Reply
    Ana
    February 14, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    Always nice to read your posts. Your conversation with your son resonates with me as I’m having these same talks with my kids. Although I want them to make good financial choices, I don’t want them to grow up in a hurry or worry that they have to follow a fast track to success.

    I think how much you disclose about your finances is definitely a personal choice. It comes down to what you and your family are okay sharing. You put out helpful personal finance information already without including your net worth 😉

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