It’s frustrating to feel like you’re not making any progress with your finances. Maybe you haven’t got a raise for a while, or you’ve been slogging away at debt payments for months at a time, or a stock market dip took your investments right back to where you started. Some people get desperate to make a big financial move and instead make a big mistake (get rich quick schemes, anyone?).

My goal is to make steady financial progress – to move the needle forward a little bit at a time so that eventually all those little steps add up to a giant leap.

That’s why this sketch by The Behaviour Gap author Carl Richards is so powerful. You don’t notice the steady improvements you make in real time as you knock an extra $100 off your credit card balance, or when you slide $50 into your savings account. But over time all those little steps do indeed add up to a massive improvement in your finances.

Carl Richards Massive Improvement

There was a great discussion initiated by J. Money on Twitter asking how far you’ve come with your finances since 2012:

Scroll through the comments to read some pretty inspirational money stories.

I wasn’t tracking net worth on this blog back in 2012 but I do have an Excel spreadsheet (of course!) charting my financial progress for the last decade.

In 2012 we had been in our new house for a year and welcomed our second child into the world (our oldest turned three). We had emptied our TFSAs to top-up our downpayment, and then after purchasing a new vehicle (2013 Sante Fe) we were in full on debt repayment mode.

I felt like we weren’t making any financial progress because instead of contributing to our TFSAs we were paying $800+ per month towards the new vehicle. Two years later we took out a line of credit to finish our basement, digging ourselves another $30,000 hole.

Fast-forward seven years and our vehicles are paid off, the line of credit is paid off, we’re contributing heavily towards our RRSPs and TFSAs, the kids’ RESPs are fully funded for their ages, and we’re making significant progress on our mortgage. Here’s a side-by-side look at then and now:

Assets 2012 2019
Home $424,900 $459,000
RRSP $53,774 $196,500
TFSA $2,000 $34,100
RESP $4,690 $45,000
Pension $59,778 $206,920
Cash $8,200 $16,500
Total Assets $553,342 $958,020
Mortgage $311,513 $209,978
Net Worth $241,829 $748,042

I’ll be honest, it’s really gratifying to see how far we’ve come in just seven years. That’s a half-million dollar leap forward!

Sure there have been bumps along the way, but our financial plan is the compass that has guided us so far and will continue to point us in the direction of financial freedom.

What was life like for you in 2012 and how has it changed in 2019? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your story!

This Week’s Recap:

This week I wrote about women, wealth, and retirement.

I applied for a NEXUS Card at the end of December. Applications were taking longer to process due to the U.S. government shutdown but finally in late March my application has conditionally approved and I was invited to schedule an interview at an Enrollment Centre.

I did that on Friday at the Calgary Airport. It’s ironic that I drove 2 hours each way to apply for a program that might save me a few minutes in the security line at the airport and at border crossings for the next five years.

As a side benefit, I got to see exactly where we’ll depart from on our flight from Calgary–>Chicago–>Edinburgh in June. I was also pleasantly surprised to see the Marriott’s lobby opens up right into the airport near the international departures. We’re staying there the night before we leave and the location will make our early morning flight that much less stressful.

Promo of the Week:

One reason why I applied for the NEXUS Card, other than out of sheer curiosity, was because a credit card I signed-up for offered to rebate the $50 application fee.

That’s right, the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card has an enticing offer that pays up 20,000 Aventura points, a $120 travel credit, and a NEXUS application fee rebate. Plus, get a Priority Pass membership and 4 complimentary visits per year at over 1,200 airport lounges.

Weekend Reading:

A decade ago, as the world began to piece the financial system back together after an epic credit crisis, there was agreement on one thing: Too much debt had caused the crisis, and so there must be a huge de-leveraging. It has not worked out like that.

A brave post by Nick Magguilli (Of Dollars and Data) on the importance of knowing yourself.

Morgan Housel asks how you deal with volatility:

“The last three months of 2018 was the worst quarter for stocks in seven years. The first three months of 2019 was the best quarter for stocks in 10 years.”

A Nova Scotia family is now stuck paying the mortgage on their home almost two years after it was swallowed up by a sinkhole.

There’s a new digital bank in town called Motusbank, an offshoot of Meridian Credit Union. Motusbank offers a free chequing account, a savings account paying 2.25 percent interest, and mortgages with fixed rates across 1-5 year terms.

Gordon Pape shares why you might want to avoid using your RRSP to buy a home.

10 questions on annuities answered on the My Own Advisor blog by expert Money Gal Alexandra Macqueen.

Here, a My Own Advisor reader shares a reader story who reached financial freedom at age 52 and now wants to know how to draw down what he’s worked so hard for.

Frugal Trader at Million Dollar Journey argues that the ultimate FIRE indicator is once you’ve reached your financial freedom crossover point:

“It’s a fairly simple, but motivating, concept that shows the point at which your passive income grows enough to meet (or just about exceed) your recurring monthly/annual expenses.  In essence, it’s the point where you reach financial independence or FIRE (financial independence/retire early).”

Squawkfox Kerry Taylor shares three behavioural science tricks to help you pay off debt faster.

100 square foot apartments and 5-foot-10 ceilings: Harrowing tales of Millennials renting in Toronto.

Finally, music fans can access a nearly identical library of songs on Spotify, Apple Music, or Google Play. So why is the streaming video market so fragmented? Ben Carlson laments his experience cutting the cord.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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