Sharing My Top Financial Wins

Talking about money can often feel a lot like the movie Fight Club. You know, the first rule of money is: You do not talk about money. The second rule of money is: You do not talk about money.

Indeed, money is a taboo topic in many households and cultures. As a financial blogger, my goal is to bring these topics to the forefront and start conversations about money so we can all share and benefit from the discussion.

Credit Education Week Canada

This week marks the 10th anniversary of Credit Education Week Canada – part of a national effort to raise financial literacy and the importance of proper credit education. The week began in 2007 through a partnership between Credit Canada Debt Solutions and Capital One Canada. The two organizations came together with an aim of improving financial well-being in Canada through awareness and education.

CEWC proudly supports the initiatives of Financial Literacy Month through several events across the country. Over the last 10 years the week has grown and, this year, there will be more than 170 financial education events across Canada.

This year’s theme is titled “Financial Wins”, with a focus on helping Canadians reach their financial goals and encouraging them to share their financial triumphs, big or small, so that others to learn from them to have financial wins of their own.

Together, Capital One Canada and Credit Canada Debt Solutions released the results of a study looking at Canadian financial wins. It found 80 percent of Canadians have had a financial win where they took control of their financial situation, while nearly 40 percent of all financial wins were to buy a house or get out of debt. One-quarter of Canadians surveyed say the most important financial win is to feel financially secure in everyday life.

But even if Canadians achieve financial successes, they rarely share them outside of their close friends and family, meaning that others aren’t able to learn from them. Just 14 percent shared their financial win on social media (compared to 100 percent of personal finance bloggers!).

That changes today because not only am I going to share my top financial wins here, but also I’m encouraging Boomer & Echo readers to do a little humble-bragging of their own down in the comments section.

Sharing My Top Financial Wins for Credit Education Week

My top financial wins (in reverse chronological order)

October 2016 – We paid off our car! We bought a Hyundai Sante Fe in 2012 – our first major car purchase – and financed it over 48 months. The final payment came out of our account last month and let me tell you it is such a great feeling to be car-payment free!

We plan on driving the car for another 10+ years, so now we can redirect that monthly payment into our Tax Free Savings Accounts. #winning

January 2016 – We maxed out our kids’ RESPs! We opened an RESP for our daughters soon after they were born, but had yet to contribute the full $2,500 per child annually to take advantage of the $500 per year in grant money offered through the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG). What was holding us back? I don’t know, maybe the dozens of other competing financial priorities?

This January I was excited to bump up our contributions to the kids’ RESPs and max out the grant. And guess what? There’s still time for us to catch up on that unused contribution room and max out the grant from previous years.

December 2015 – Umm, err, I won my fantasy football league? Let’s just skip 2015…

August 2014 – $100,000 saved in my RRSP! I contributed to my RRSP regularly when I worked in the private sector and took advantage of my employer matching a portion of my contributions. When I changed careers in 2009 I enrolled in a defined benefit plan but continued building up my RRSP portfolio.

I considered it a huge accomplishment to have saved $100,000 in my retirement account by the time I turned 35. Now as my RRSP contribution room is lessened by the pension adjustment, and I shift focus to my TFSA, my RRSP portfolio will benefit from the early head start and compound interest can work its magic.

November 2011 – Paid off student loans in full! My wife and I together had over $50,000 in student loan debt from the early 2000’s and for many years simply made the minimum monthly payments.

After several years of benign neglect, we finally got serious about our finances. We started doubling up on payments and quickly paid those suckers off in just two years. Like paying off the car, releasing ourselves from the shackles of student debt was liberating and allowed us to shift those resources into other financial priorities.

January 2010 – Hard-core budgeting and expense tracking begins! I started a loose budget in 2009 but it wasn’t until 2010 that I found the perfect budgeting spreadsheet to help us track our income and expenses, and plan our spending for a full 12 months. In fact I still use the same spreadsheet to this day, and can’t imagine NOT using it to keep tabs on our spending and help make key financial decisions.

What can I say? Budgeting is fun!

My biggest financial win

Looking back through my old budgets and blog posts, I have to say the one thing I’m most proud of is that we were able to grow our net worth substantially over the last five years in one of the toughest economic climates in history.

You see, I haven’t had a raise in nearly four years, but instead of moping about it I went out and applied my other skills and interests to create a profitable online business in my spare time. I make money talking about money. How’s that for a new Fight Club rule?

Readers, your turn: Tell us about your biggest financial win.

This post was sponsored by Capital One Canada, all opinions are my own.

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  1. canadianbudgetbinder on November 7, 2016 at 4:49 am

    That’s one hell of a brilliant fight rule mate. It’s too easy to whine and get away with it than it is to think about the next fight. Time to put our gloves down, jump out of the ring and start fighting for ourselves instead of against everyone else.
    I would say the same about our net worth growth over the past 5 years as well. Paying off our mortgage was the biggest success but we attribute that to using a budget and a drive to reach our goals.
    Thanks for sharing your financial wins with us!

  2. Maxworth Money Coaching on November 7, 2016 at 6:41 am

    My biggest final win is paying off our mortgage in 12 years (our original amortization was 20 years) . That was 3 years ago .

    And my biggest win this year is buying our 1st rental property … so I’m back to having a mortgage, but this time the rent is covering it 🙂

  3. JP on November 7, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Awesome topic! For me paying off the mortgage by age 35 allowed me to redirect cashflow straight to maximizing TFSAs, fully funding RESPs and utilizing RRSPs. By not taking on too much house I was able to weather a divorce and remain debt free while building a career and financial know how. By redirecting child benefits to RESPs I had to do very little topup personally to get the 20% grant. In terms of financial freedom, if we want to take an expensive vacation, we can quit saving for a month, stay off the credit and go wherever we want. Automatic contributions make things easy and unemotional while forcing lifestyle to within 50% of our means. Between aggresive savings, modest lifestyle, driving used cars, maximizing employer match plans and being fully invested, we grew our networth by $100,000 in 2015. Not bad for a couple with average incomes. I can say if it weren’t for other people sharing with me along the way, goal setting or working on my financial education, I wouldn’t be in this position. Thanks for sharing everyone!

  4. CLP on November 7, 2016 at 9:15 am

    Looking back today, at age 70, I realize that my biggest wins over a lifetime of being careful with money, living a modest to reasonable lifestyle, paying off mortgages and a couple of car loans along the way, I have reached a point where I have full peace of mind about my financial situation for the rest of my life. I have no pension other than CPP and OAS, but live off my savings and investment income. I’ll never own a Mercedes but have no wish to; I travel where and when I want; and I spend as I please on what is important to me (including paying someone to clean for me).
    Yet a still bigger win was to see my children manage their finances equally responsibly and ask for my advice on budgeting and investing – and taxes.

  5. Steve Boyko on November 7, 2016 at 9:16 am

    Great list! You’ve achieved some great successes.

    We are looking forward to finishing off our mortgage next year and then we’ll be completely debt-free. That will free up cash flow for more investing!

  6. Valerie on November 7, 2016 at 9:54 am

    I m 72 nearly 73 and am financially free, mortgage free except for a rental. I am maxed out on TSFA. Most of my investments are open, only 55,00 in RRSP My investments are with ScotiaBank. Now that I am fully retired I have time to look at other options for perhaps doing my own investments. Where do I start. I am somewhat alarmed a the fees I pay every month for my money to be managed. The original idea to have it managed was time and the fact that I could write off all my fees. (I had two small business and a rental) Where do I go from here? Thanks I really enjoy your website.

  7. JBP on November 7, 2016 at 11:06 am

    My greatest financial win, was to pay off my mortgage. Coming to Canada in my fifties, was all about making a fresh start. My wife and I were both in our early 60’s as we bought our first house with a 20% down payment and a 20 year amortization. We had a STEP mortgage that allowed us to match our weekly mortgage payment. Last month after three and half years, our mortgage was paid off! Making a 104 mortgage payments a year was a bit of a stretch – but so worth it, to be debt free. So happy to be able to brag here, as our mortgage free celebration was a discreet dinner for two, so as not to show off in front of family and friends. I hope to retire in 3-4 years, and being debt free will make life with a small pension easier. This blog and others have been a great help to learn to budget and to make some prudent financial decisions. Thanks to you Robb and your blogger friends!

  8. MJ on November 7, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing your wins. You and I as well as my kids and your kids are close in age so I feel like I am following a parallel path.

    Some wins my husband and I are proud of:

    2005 – Paid off my student loans three years after graduating (including a U.S. student loan when the loonie was only 61 cents U.S.)

    2006 – Paid for our own wedding and condo down payment in cash

    2015 – Reached $100K in my RRSP at age 34.

    2016 – Maxed out my RRSP (including all previous contribution room) for the first time.

    2016 – Husband reached $100K in his RRSP at age 36. (Still a long way to go for him to max it out though)

    2020 – Our mortgage will be paid off after 14 years.

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