I’m a bit of a money nerd. Not only do I blog about money but I also get excited about my year-end financial checklist and putting together a budget and financial goals for next year.
I’ve used this blog as a way to set financial goals and hold myself accountable to achieve them. While it hasn’t been perfect, writing down and publishing my goals here each year has helped me get closer to financial independence.
Here are my 2017 financial goals:
Max out my RRSP
I’ve caught up on most of my unused RRSP contribution room but I still have about $9,000 available for the 2016 year and then after my pension adjustment I’ll create an extra $3,000 per year going forward.
Next year I plan on maxing out all the available RRSP room. I just have to decide whether to do it all at once with an RRSP loan, or just contribute $1,000 per month instead. The money will be invested in Vanguard’s All World ex Canada ETF (VXC).
Catch-up on TFSA contributions
I’ve shamefully (for a personal finance blogger) neglected my TFSA while we paid off our car and developed the basement in our new house. With those expenses (mostly) out of the way it’s time to crank-up the TFSA contributions.
I’ve budgeted $1,000 per month to go into my TFSA, which will be invested in a Vanguard Canadian Index ETF (VCN) as part of my two-ETF solution.
Pay off HELOC
We took out a line of credit to complete our basement renovation in 2014 and have been slowly paying it down ever since. The balance sits at roughly $12,000 and so I’ve budgeted $1,000 per month and plan to have our HELOC paid off in full by the end of 2017.
I’ll keep the HELOC open, though, as the interest rate is just 3.2 percent and a line of credit can come in handy as a quasi-emergency fund.
Continue maxing out RESPs for our children
We bumped up our RESP contributions at the start of 2016 so that we were contributing enough to maximize the Canada Education Savings Grant (which gives you 20 percent on every dollar of the first $2,500 you save in an RESP).
The best savings habits are automatic and that’s why we’ve arranged to have $416.66 come out of our chequing account every month and into our kids’ RESPs.
Create my own raise
The economic landscape in Alberta isn’t going to get better in 2017, which likely means another salary freeze for us non-bargaining public sector employees. How to make the most of a bad situation? Create my own raise. Here’s how:
Selling used items – We had success selling kids stuff and unused electronics on Kijiji and Facebook swap & buy last year. We have a few more items to sell over the next year that we hope will net us between $500 and $1,000.
Credit card rewards and sign-up bonuses – I funnel all of our purchases onto a rewards credit card and try to get at least 2 percent back on our spending. That, plus taking advantage of several new sign-up offers, can pay back roughly $1,500 in rewards per year. I’ll be on the hunt for some generous new credit card offers in 2017!
Increase withdrawals from our small business – We set up our online business as a corporation several years ago. We withdraw about $3,500 per month – paid to my wife in dividends as an income-splitting strategy. It’s more advantageous from a tax perspective to leave any extra income in the business, however with a few more freelancing gigs we can afford to pay out an extra $500 per month if needed.
We spent a bit more on travel in 2016 than we have in previous years. Guess what? We loved it! Next year I’m hoping to use some of our 80,000+ Aeroplan miles to take my wife on a kid-free adventure somewhere in North America (any suggestions?).
Then of course we’ll have our summer family vacation and maybe a couple of shorter excursions throughout the year.
After two years of paying down debt I’m really excited for 2017 and the financial goals we have set out for the New Year. This is the year we get to really ramp-up our savings and we’re aiming to save 40 percent of our income!
Readers: What are your financial goals for 2017?