I started posting my net worth updates several years ago with the audacious goal of reaching $1M in net worth by the end of 2020. It’s motivating to see this goal becoming a reality with each passing update.
Last year ended with a net worth of $691,000, falling short of my goal thanks to the stock market nose-dive in the last quarter of the year. Thankfully the markets bounced back early this year, once again posting new all-time highs.
I made a portfolio change this year, selling my two-ETF solution of VXC and VCN in favour of Vanguard’s new all-equity, globally balanced ETF called VEQT. This fund is now my lone holding inside both my RRSP and my TFSA. So far this year VEQT is up 6.43 percent – not bad!
Finally, I got a raise at work for the first time in five years! The modest increase added about $3,500 to my annual salary – not life-changing income but certainly a step in the right direction after years of wage stagnation.
Before I get into the numbers here’s a quick recap of my 2019 financial goals:
- Contribute to RRSPs – I’ve set up automatic monthly contributions to max-out my small RRSP contribution limit this year. My wife made a $10,000 contribution to her RRSP to help lower her taxes owing for 2018. She now only has about $8,500 in available room, which we’ll tackle next year.
- Contribute to TFSAs – We’re in catch up mode with our TFSAs and so I continue to put $1,000 per month into my TFSA until it’s fully maxed out (a few more years to go).
- Continue to max out RESPs – Another goal that’s on auto-pilot with continued automatic contributions of $416.66 every month. Our RESPs are invested in the TD e-Series funds.
- Don’t take on any new debt – One reason we are able to save at such a high rate is because we have no debts or monthly payments outside of our mortgage. We’ve kept it that way for the first half of the year and still don’t plan on borrowing anytime soon.
- Create my own raise – I’ve had to get creative with my income the past few years and find ways to create my own raise through selling used items, earning credit card rewards, and taking on extra freelance work. Getting an actual raise at work puts the icing on the cake, since I’ll just bank the extra income.
We also wanted to travel more and, in addition to our 32-day trip to Scotland and Ireland this summer, we have booked the following travel plans:
- Seattle – 3 days in October
- Vancouver – 5 days in October
- Maui – 7 days in February
- Italy – 17 days in April
We’re able to increase our travel budget specifically due to goal number four – don’t take on new debt.
Now, on to the numbers.
Net worth update: 2019 mid-year review
Total Assets – $967,946
- Chequing account – $1,500
- Savings account – $15,000
- RRSP – $198,175
- Defined benefit pension plan – $212,009
- TFSA – $35,385
- RESP – $46,877
- Principal residence – $459,000
Total Liabilities – $207,565
- Mortgage – $207,565
Net worth – $760,381
Now let’s answer a few questions about the way I calculate net worth:
Credit Cards & Banking
We funnel all of our purchases onto a couple of different rewards credit cards to earn points on our everyday spending.
Our go-to card is the now discontinued Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard. We have a grandfathered version that pays 2 percent back on every purchase and comes with a 10,000-point bonus each year. Our secondary card is the new American Express Cobalt Card, which pays 5 percent back on ‘eats & drinks’ so we use it at any grocery store, restaurant, and liquor store that accepts Amex.
We each have no-fee chequing accounts at Tangerine, which we use for bill payments, email money transfers, and the odd debit purchase. The rest of our banking is done at TD, including our mortgage, line of credit, and investments.
Each month I contribute roughly 12 percent of my salary to a defined benefit pension plan that my employer also matches. The amount listed above is the estimated commuted value of the pension if I were to leave the plan today.
The plan pays 2 percent of your highest average salary multiplied by the number of years worked. So that means if I retired at 60 with an average salary of $100,000 I’d receive $60,000 per year from the pension plan.
RRSP / RESP
The right way to calculate net worth is to use the same formula consistently over time to help track and achieve your financial goals.
My preferred method is to list the current value of my RRSP and RESP plans rather than discounting their future value to account for taxes and distributions.
I consider a net worth statement to be a snapshot of your current financial picture, so when it comes time to draw from my RRSP and distribute the RESP to my kids, net worth will decrease accordingly.
We bought our home in 2011 for $425,000 and developed our basement a few years later, increasing its value to $450,000. Last year I bumped up the market value by 2 percent (which is still less than its city-assessed value), but the local real estate market has since flattened and so I’ve left the value at $459,000 this year.
It’s been easier to put our finances on auto-pilot now that we have fewer goals to fund. In the past we struggled to fund multiple financial goals simply because resources were finite. Now we have a laser-like focus on maxing out our RRSP / TFSA / RESP – which is simple to automate.
Our million-dollar net worth milestone is well within reach by the end of next year. I’m projecting a net worth of ~$830,000 by the end of this year and, barring a major market meltdown, we should cross the million-dollar mark by the end of 2020.
Of course, this goal is just an arbitrary benchmark to strive towards on our true path to financial freedom. We’re still on track for financial freedom 45, which is now just five years away. In fact, we’re at a point where I could realistically make the leap to full-time freelancer in the next two years. We’ll see how things go.
How have your finances fared so far in 2019?