We’re almost halfway through 2017 already and it’s a good time to reflect on my financial goals for the year and check in on my progress.

To summarize, I wanted to max-out all of my unused RRSP contribution room, start catching up on TFSA contributions, pay off our home equity line of credit, max-out the kids’ RESPs, create my own raise (since I’m not likely to get one from my employer again this year), and travel more.

Checking in on my financial goals

RRSP update

I made a large RRSP contribution during the first 60 days of this year to reduce our 2016 taxes owing to zero. My RRSP limit for 2017 is roughly $6,000. I plan to contribute $3,000 in the last three months of this year, plus another $3,000 during the first 60 days of 2018.

I’m happy to report that my RRSP balance has crossed the $150,000 mark. For those of you that don’t know, this portfolio is invested in two ETFs, Vanguard’s VCN (Canada) and VXC (All World, ex-Canada).

TFSA update

My goal was to put $12,000 in my TFSA this year and so far I’m on track, making $1,000 contributions for the first six months of the year. All of my TFSA is invested in Vanguard’s VCN. I treat my RRSP and TFSA as one portfolio with the goal of holding 20 percent of the portfolio in Canadian equities and 80 percent in foreign equities.

Pay off HELOC

Same idea as the TFSA, I put $1,000 per month onto our line of credit and so far we’re on track to pay this off in full by the end of the year (give or take a month). We used the line of credit to develop our basement a couple of years ago, but it’s time to pay this sucker off.

RESP update

I’m really happy with the progress we’ve made on the kids’ RESPs. It took us almost eight years to max-out our annual contributions and take advantage of the full government matching grant. Since January we’ve contributed $416.66 per month into these RESPs, with the government grant topping that up to $500.

This portfolio is invested in TD e-Series funds, with 1/3 going into Canadian equities, 1/3 into U.S. equities, and 1/3 into International equities. Our kids are now eight and five and their RESPs are worth $30,000.

Create My Own Raise

We haven’t sold anything online yet this year, but that could change this summer as we could unload our jogging stroller, plus some of the kids’ bikes and other equipment that they’ve outgrown.

We also haven’t increased the withdrawals from our business, but again that could change in the second half of the year.

Nothing new on the credit card rewards front.

On a positive note, I won $800 through a monthly 50/50 draw at work! (don’t gamble, kids).

Travel more

#Fail. We spent a short week in Canmore, AB at Easter break. Outside of that we haven’t travelled at all but we might be looking at a trip to Toronto later in the year. We’re not quite ready for our BIG TRIP to Ireland with the kids. Two more years.

This Week’s Recap:

On Monday I looked at summer spending and some strategies to stay on budget during what can be an expensive time of year.

On Wednesday Marie explained the estate planning options for your TFSA.

And on Friday we launched a new feature, ask a career expert, which looked at how to negotiate a job offer.

Weekend Reading:

Jason Heath on why it’s time for Canada’s financial industry to put the customer first.

What you can learn about investing from a guy who made 3,089% on his cryptocurrency investment (don’t gamble, kids).

How to become a millionaire on a salary of $56,000 a year.

Here’s how to make realistic retirement calculations for your future.

Retiring to Mexico — for a lower tax rate: You technically have to pay just 15% on your Canadian income, but there’s more to the story.

Sidebar: I was annoyed at a recent group conversation on Facebook when a financial advisor troll posted that low fees shouldn’t be a main criteria in selecting an investment (mutual fund or ETF). He used the same tired argument that many active investing proponents use, saying that an investor is better off with a product that delivers a 10 percent return and charges 2 percent, rather than a product that returns 8 percent and charges 1 percent (for example).

 

Of course that’s true, but it’s not that simple. The problem is that returns can only be known in hindsight. All we know in advance is the fee, and there’s much research that suggests fees are the only reliable predictor of future performance, with the lower fee product likely outperforming a higher fee product.

 

This advisor closed by saying that indexing and ETFs are for people who are ‘not very knowledgeable about investing’.

He should read this excellent piece by Dan Solin on the ‘undiscovered investing genius’. Hint: Look in the mirror – it could be you.

Here’s PWL Capital’s Ben Felix on why it’s so hard to beat the market:

Retirement researcher Wade Pfau on the difference between ‘safe’ and ‘optimal’ withdrawal rates for retirement spending.

Some adult children are sharing more than that with their aging parents. They’re handing over money.

Advice for boomers desperate to unload family heirlooms: Sorry, nobody wants your parents’ stuff.

The Economist weighs-in on the lessons from Canada’s attempts to curb its house-price boom.

A new report suggests that car dealerships could be out of business within a decade.

“Greater demand for electric cars, coupled with increased demand for ride sharing, will eventually eliminate the need for dealerships altogether.”

Barry Choi and his wife saved a 50 percent down payment and still travelled the world.

Patrick Sojka at Rewards Canada did a case study comparing a fixed return travel credit card (Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard) versus a reward chart travel card (RBC Visa Infinite Avion). Interesting stuff.

Finally, CRTC bans cellphone unlocking fees and orders all new devices be unlocked.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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