I’ve been thinking about next year for a long time and now that the 2018 calendar has turned to December I wanted to share my financial goals for 2019. Goal setting has been a major key to my financial success over the years. Publishing my goals here on this blog is a great way to hold myself accountable and help me stay the course when life inevitably gets in the way.

I’m looking forward to 2019 for several reasons. First, we’re going on an epic 32-day long trip to Scotland and Ireland in the summer! It’s our dream vacation that we’ve been planning for ever since we had children. Second, there’s a good chance our household assets reach the million dollar mark in 2019. And third, some restructuring in my office might finally lead to the promotion and raise I’ve been working towards for the past five years. Of course, there’s a chance that doesn’t happen and I’m stuck in salary freeze hell for another year. We’ll see.

With that in mind, here are my financial goals for 2019.

My Financial Goals For 2019

1.) Contribute to RRSPs

I’ve caught up on my unused RRSP contribution room and because of the pension adjustment my RRSP deduction limit for 2019 will be just $3,600. I’ve set up automatic contributions of $300 per month to go into my RRSPs this year. Stock markets willing, my RRSP portfolio should surpass $200,000 by the end of the year.

I’m used to contributing $10,000 or more to my own RRSP, so now that I can’t do that we’ll tackle my wife’s unused contribution room. My wife stays at home full time now but she has about $30,000 in available contribution room. Depending on her 2018 tax situation she’ll likely make a sizeable ($10,000+) contribution to her RRSP before March.

Note that although she receives dividend income from our online business, that does not create any new RRSP contribution room the way salaried income does, so at this point we’ll have to make do with the ~$30,000.

2.) Contribute to TFSAs

The contribution limit for TFSAs has increased to $6,000 in 2019. That’s great news for savers! We’re still in catch-up mode with our TFSAs and the plan is to contribute $1,000 per month to mine in 2019.

That’ll get my contributions up to about $44,000, so still a long way from maxing out all available room. Hey, there’s only so much money to go around, right?

3. Continue to max out RESPs

Helping our kids fund their education goals is a priority for us and so we’ll continue to max out their RESP contributions at $416.66 per month to take advantage of the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG).

Our kids will be 10 and 7 next year and it’s cool to see their RESP balance growing to a sizeable amount. By the end of 2019 it should be close to $50,000. That’s almost enough for one of them to attend Harvard for a year.

4. Don’t take on any new debt

We’ve ramped up our savings in recent years in large part because we haven’t taken on any new debt. We’ve paid off a car loan (2017), line of credit (2018), and we’re slowly whittling down our $200,000+ mortgage balance.

At this time we have no desire to buy a new vehicle, renovate our home, buy a new home, purchase a vacation home, buy a trailer, or make any large purchase that would require us to take on any new debt.

No new debt means we’ll be able to save a whopping 32.5 percent of our income in 2019!

5. Create my own raise

I haven’t had a raise in five years and so I’ve gotten used to planning without assuming any salary increases. While that can make it difficult to make financial progress I haven’t let it hold us back from achieving our goals.

One reason is because I’ve tried to create my own raise through credit card rewards, by selling used items, and taking on extra freelance writing assignments.

This year I’ve earned more than $2,000 in credit card rewards (after deducting annual fees) plus extra cash back from shopping on websites such as Great Canadian Rebates and Ebates.ca.

My wife sold some unused items on Facebook Swap & Buy and pocketed more than $500.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m actively pursuing a promotion that will significantly increase my income and accelerate our financial goals. But the public sector moves slowly and I’m better off planning for the worst (status quo) and hoping for the best.

6. Keep our epic trip under $12,000

Our airfare from Calgary to Edinburgh and back home will cost less than $1,000 thanks to Aeroplan miles. Then we’ll spend a total of $5,300 on accommodations (Airbnb stays in Inverness and Kilkenny). Our hotel stays in Edinburgh and Dublin will be free, courtesy of SPG / Marriott rewards points.

That leaves us with $5,700 to spend on food, beverage, attractions, car rental, rail travel, etc. This is the kind of trip that can get out of hand financially with a “while we’re here” mentality. I tried to save as much as I could on flights and hotels so we can splurge at times on those other items. We hope to find the right balance between frugal and luxury.

Final thoughts

2019 should be the epitome of what we’re trying to achieve with our financial goals. We’ll achieve a high savings rate because we don’t spend on things that aren’t important to us. We’ll set aside a good chunk of money for travel to experience something new. And we’ll find ways to increase our income to accelerate our financial goals.

All of this gets us one step closer to achieving financial freedom by 2024. We’ll get there not through extreme frugality but by balancing our financial priorities so we can enjoy life today while still looking ahead to how we want to live tomorrow.

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13 Comments

  1. Dale Roberts on December 2, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    Hey Robb, great post. Thanks for putting it all out there. You are doing everything right. That sets a wonderful example. And more importantly you are building wealth in all of the right buckets and you still know when and how to live, and will take that trip of a lifetime. That trip sounds incredible. It’s important to enjoy our monies as well.

    • Robb Engen on December 2, 2018 at 4:29 pm

      Many thanks for the kind words, Dale!

  2. Michael James on December 2, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    As always, my favourite goal is the one to not take on any new debt.

    • Robb Engen on December 2, 2018 at 4:31 pm

      Hi Michael, I actually remember you making that comment one year and it stuck with me. Such an important piece of the puzzle that we don’t want to neglect.

  3. Deb Barton on December 2, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    When we travel we like to have access to a kitchen…make a few meals and save.

    • Robb Engen on December 2, 2018 at 4:33 pm

      Hi Deb, that’s our plan with the Airbnb stays in Inverness (7 nights) and Kilkenny (14 nights). We’ve rented an entire home and plan to shop at local markets and cook at home when we can.

      After working in hotels for 10 years I can’t stand too much hotel / restaurant food.

  4. Steve Boyko on December 2, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Sounds like it will be a great trip!

  5. Peter on December 2, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Well done Robb.
    Regarding trips of a lifetime, when we were a little younger, we signed on with Homelink (there are others too) and we did home+car exchanges in England, Ireland and New Zealand. All worked very well and at very low cost. It was nice to be met at Aukland airport at 6AM by private car after an all night flight and whisked away to a comfy bed for a few hours. Also nice to land in Shannon with keys in pocket for an exchanged car waiting for us in the carpark at no cost. Also great to have a neighbour call in to welcome us with fresh home made bread and advice on how to avoid heavy traffic caused by a local soccer game.
    We also like to have our own kitchen & cook healthy food for ourselves.
    Home exchanges are not for everyone, but they worked well for us.

    • Robb Engen on December 3, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      Hi Peter, very cool – thanks for sharing your experience with home exchanges. We’re hopeful the Kilkenny stay is like that – it’s on a farm with a few other houses and very close to town. We want to embrace the local experience as much as possible.

  6. John Rosenberg on December 3, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    Hi Robb, I have one question for clarification, why did you decide to contribute to your wife’s RRSP rather than get your TFSA’s maxed. I assume since she is home her income is low, so from a deferral of tax standpoint and your obvious excellent planning wont her retirement income (assuming you will split your pension) be higher than her current income?

    • Robb Engen on December 3, 2018 at 3:03 pm

      Hi John, great question. Right now we stream dividends to my wife from our online business for tax planning purposes. I’m hoping she can contribute enough to her RRSP to bring her taxes owing down near zero.

      • Bob Lin on December 3, 2018 at 3:44 pm

        Robb, isn’t there a risk that what your wife gets back/saves in taxes now will be less than what she has to pay in taxes when she draws from her RRSP?

        My wife is in a similar situation, very low income, but with RRSP room. We chose to put the money into her TFSA. She pays a few thousand dollars in taxes now on her earnings, but nothing at all when she draws it from the TFSA, vs about six thousand dollars when the same amount is drawn from an RRSP (assumes the withdrawal occurs in a single year and she has other income eg CPP, OAS, RIF, a DB, or splitting your DB income).

  7. Bob Lin on December 3, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    Robb, it’s fantastic that you have a plan. I so wish I’d learned about FIRE earlier, now we’re in a mad rush to stuff as much money as we can into our accounts over the next year and a bit (our savings rate is over 50%). Subject to no personal mishaps or a global war, we will make our number and it’ll all work out, but with such a focus it takes a bit of fun out of life. Still, it’ll all be worth it in the end.

    All the best for your vacation.

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