Back in August when we started this blog I wrote an article about my short term goals. At the beginning of each year I feel it’s important to set goals for myself to help keep me on the right path in my financial journey. However, goals are meaningless if you don’t regularly measure and track your progress.
Here is an update on my 5 short term goals for 2010:
1. Create a family budget – With my wife staying at home full time looking after our first child, we would be adjusting to single income living by March. I’ve never done a budget before, but I felt this was the right time to start tracking our spending to ensure that we could make this transition as smoothly as possible.
- Update – Completed. Back in January I found a family budget in Excel on Google Docs that I customized for our own situation. The first tab is the overview of the entire year where I can forecast income and expenses. Then I set up individual tabs representing the current month that I’m in. We also created a meal plan and stuck with it, saving us hundreds of dollars a month on groceries and dining out expenses. Looking back at our expenses I was really pleased with how we were able to make a smooth transition to single income living this year, and implementing a budget was a big part of our success.
2. Max out my TFSA contribution – At the beginning of the year I would contribute $5,000 to my TFSA, which is held at TD Waterhouse. I have a specific strategy for this account, where I purchase dividend stocks that have a history of growing their dividends over time. I will utilize this account as part of my 3 income stream retirement plan.
- Update – Completed. I contributed $5,000 into my TFSA account in March. I now hold Emera, Enbridge, and Cominar REIT inside my TFSA, which is paying me $560 in annual dividends. This portfolio also grew by 18% this year and is now worth approximately $14,000.
3. Maximize Rewards Points – I have always been a big fan of Air Miles rewards, but I wanted to find out if I was truly maximizing my dollars spent with the rewards I’ve been receiving. Turns out I wasn’t, so after careful research I chose the PC MasterCard, which offers 1000 points for every $100 spent. 20,000 points can be redeemed for $20 in free groceries.
- Update – Completed. I use PC MasterCard for bill payments and all of my day-to-day purchases, and still use my Air Miles AMEX for shopping at Costco. This year we redeemed Air Miles for $300 in free gas from Shell, and cashed in over $200 in free groceries from Superstore. Just for spending the money we would normally spend, we received over $500 in free gas and groceries.
4. Save $1000/month – This was part of an intermediate goal of upgrading our house in the near future.
- Update – Unfortunately we weren’t able to reach this goal. The good news is that we were able to save an average of $830/month, and we reached the $1000/month mark in each of the last three months of the year. This is a good sign for our savings rate going into 2011 when we plan to build our new house.
5. Increase Net Worth by $50,000 – This goal was basically the culmination of the other 4 goals. With my TFSA contributions, defined benefit plan contributions, dividends, market growth, bi-weekly mortgage payments (and super-low interest rates), and increased savings rate, this should have been achievable for us in 2010.
- Update – With only a few days left in the year it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to achieve this goal either. Year-to-date we have increased our net worth by $46,000. However, I initially projected a $5,000 increase in the market value of our house but I recently decided to leave the market value the same as last year given the economic climate and uncertain housing market.
Overall I am really happy with how this year worked out for us financially. We achieved some real efficiencies in our daily living expenses, the market returns were outstanding for both our RRSP and TFSA portfolios, and we were able to hack away at our mortgage debt. If I were to grade our goal achievements this year, I would give us a B+.
How did you do with your financial goals this year?