Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Breaking down my retirement portfolio

I’ve been asked to talk about my Retirement Portfolio and investments, so I’ll do my best. I’ve previously written a 3-part series on how I got started with investing (which you can read here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), but I’ve never really gone farther than that.

I explained in that 3-part series that for the first few years of investing, I was completely lost. Sure, I was saving a little bit of my money each month, but I really didn’t understand anything about what I was doing. 10 years later, I have just broken the $100,000 barrier to my Retirement Portfolio (yay!) and I feel like I have a good grasp on my goals and how to get myself there.

Breaking down the numbers

I’ve spoken a few times about how much I invest each month. I started off by putting away just $25/month into my RRSP while I was getting out of debt and working my first job out of college. Now, I’m investing about $1,760/month towards retirement.

It’s taken me a while to get up to that amount, but I’m really proud that over the past 10 years, saving for retirement has remained my biggest financial goal. And despite continuing to increase my contributions, I can still have a good life – which includes buying and (eventually) paying off our condo early, traveling multiple times a year, and never feeling deprived. Of course a lot of that has to do with the fact that I do make a comfortable income, but I didn’t always, and that has been a work in progress too.

So anyway let’s break down the money I’m saving:

  • TD Canada Trust RRSP ($650)
  • TD Canada Trust TFSA ($215)
  • Questrade TFSA ($270)
    • This account is made up of a couple of individual stocks I’m playing around with, but most of the account is in ETFs, following the Canadian Couch Potato ‘Assertive’ portfolio model for ETFs. I’m actually using only Vanguard ETFs as that is what he had listed a few years ago as his model portfolio, and am just going to keep going with that for now.
    • Contribute bi-weekly through auto-deduction, but only actually making purchases once every few months.
  • Corporate RRSP ($375)
    • This is my company’s retirement match program. I’ve chosen their ‘Aggressive’ portfolio model.
    • Contributions are automatically deducted from my bi-weekly pay cheques.
    • The amount listed above includes the corporate match amount.
  • Corporate SPP ($250)
    • This is my company’s Share Purchase Plan, where a % match is provided
    • Contributions are automatically deducted from my bi-weekly pay cheques.
    • The amount listed above includes the corporate match amount.

Basically I’m just doing whatever Dan Bortolotti tells me to do. :) Actually, while that really is true, I came to that conclusion after doing a lot of research on my own. Also, some of you know that I was lucky enough to get to work with a “fee only” financial advisor through my job with the Toronto Star, and after analyzing my finances, he offered up basically the same portfolio options. That gave me the confidence that I was on the right path.

Related: Is it possible to save too much for the future?

Taking advantage of opportunities

You can see that, while my work doesn’t provide me with a pension, they offer up a decent amount of free money to employees who want to take advantage of it. I’m currently maxing out the corporate match for both the RRSP and the share purchase plan, and will continue to do so because I thoroughly enjoy free money. :) Those contributions currently provide a really big chunk of my monthly retirement savings, which I’m extremely grateful for. And while I can’t really touch the RRSP, I’m basically free to sell my shares in the SPP.

Having fun

Having my Retirement Portfolio basically on auto-pilot might be a dream come true for some people, but I find it kind of boring. I love being active with my finances, and you can’t exactly do that with mutual funds and ETFs. :) So I give myself a (very) small allowance to play with buying stocks. Right now I’m only invested in two individual stocks for an amount totalling just over $2,000. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to keep things fun and interesting (without jeopardizing my future haha).

Related: Why 20-somethings might have difficulties retiring by 65

The goal

My goal has always been to retire early. I am three years younger than RD and I want to be able to retire by the time he hits his retirement age of 57. Right now I’m on pace to retire by 52, and I feel like it’s not out of reach to be able to retire by 50 since my salary will (presumably) keep increasing as I continue on with my career. I may not retire once I’m financially able to do so, but just knowing that I could is, to me, the definition of financial freedom. So that will continue to be my goal.

What are your retirement and investing goals?

Hello Simplii Financial!

Note: This post is sponsored by Simplii Financial but the views and opinions are my own.

Back in August when President’s Choice Financial announced that they were going to end their banking service, I was as shocked as anyone. Some of you know I had been a PC Financial customer for almost a decade! I had switched most of my banking over to another bank about two years ago, but still kept my PC Financial account open just in case I ever wanted to switch back.

That’s why I was so curious about Simplii Financial entering into the direct banking scene. I’m always one for competition, and was intrigued as to how they were going to entice new customers.

Simplii Financial promised a seamless transition from PC Financial – with no changes to account numbers, or pre-existing automatic payments, or any issues with automatic payroll deposits. And that was true. I found I was able to login to the Simplii website with my existing PCF debit card number and password. Aside from a fresher image, everything online looked exactly the same.

I will admit that one of the reasons I switched away from PC Financial was because you couldn’t transfer money between different chequing accounts without having to pay $1.50 for an Interac e-Transfer. In fact, I blogged about that more than once! Honestly, that really made it hard for me to use the bank for my daily needs, because if I need to transfer money to my boyfriend’s PCF account, I had to pay each time. That’s why I was really pleased to see that one of Simplii’s offerings was free, unlimited Interac e-Tranfers.

I’m not going to list pros and cons of the different online banks there are in Canada, but I feel like Simplii definitely stacks up against them. They have the standard no-fee daily banking, their ATM network (using 3,400 CIBC ATMs) is really good, and customer service is available 24/7. They also offer a wide range of other products too – including mortgages, RRSP, GIC, TFSA, lines of credits, and loans.

I’m really interested in seeing how people react to Simplii and what their next steps are for gaining a bigger share of the direct banking market. I’m not in a position where I’m going to switch banks right now, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on them. To be honest, they’ve already done good in my books by introducing free Interac e-Transfers. :)

To learn more about Simplii Financial and their offerings, please visit their website at!

Would you consider switching over to Simplii?

I’d also love to hear about your transition over to Simplii!

October 2017 Goals: Recap

Well I was able to come just in under budget this month, which I’m pleased about. Our pet sitter has been booked for our two trips this year, and soon we’ll have a screen door on our balcony. But buying a screen door got me thinking about all of the other projects I want to tackle in the house. You wouldn’t think a 9 year old condo would need much work, and while none of it is ridiculously expensive, it will add up quickly. Here are the projects I’m hoping to tackle in the next few years:

  • New blinds. Ours are the cheapo blinds that come standard with most condos. They’re bent in some places, and are starting to look shabby. I’d like something more substantial that will look and last longer. But since we are a corner unit with floor to ceiling windows, I feel like this is going to be expensive.
  • Glass shower doors. We were spoiled in our last place with having a beautiful glass shower door, so now having to go back to shower curtains makes me feel unreasonably cranky. Shower doors just look so much nicer and makes the bathroom look bigger.
  • Kitchen sink. Our kitchen still looks modern and new. We have stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and bamboo cupboards. But the sink isn’t very nice and the nozzle buttons are starting to fall apart.
  • Baseboard moulding. The current moulding is pretty dinged up from the previous owners, and it’s also a cream colour which we are not fond of. We would have painted it when we moved in, but thought that we’d replace it in the next few years anyway. It doesn’t look horrible, but I think would really freshen up the condo.
  • Deck flooring. Our balcony is concrete, and not super great to look. So it would be amazing if we could lay down something that will feel nicer on our feet, and will be easier to clean. A few other balconies have it in our building, and it looks really nice.

Anyway, I have a sneaking suspicion there will always be something one of us would like to change about the place. :) But for now it’s fine. I’m thinking we’ll probably get the deck flooring project done this coming spring, so that we can enjoy our balcony next summer.

Enough about home improvement projects! Here’s how I did with my budget in October:

Over Budget

  • Groceries (work lunches/coffee): There’s no excuse for spending so much money on lunches and coffees while at work. I just got into a habit and didn’t plan ahead. One of my November goals is to not spend any money on food at work (unless a friend comes into town, it’s a team lunch, or some sort of networking event – none of which are very common).
  • Household: We had budgeted for a pet sitter and a screen door for the condo, which would have put us well under budget. But we also decided to buy pet insurance for Zoey, and RD really wanted to buy a vacuum to deal with the cat hair that is just everywhere.

Income & Savings

I saved 44.5% of my income this month, and thanks to a great months for my investments, my overall net worth increased by 3.6%.

October 2017 Goals:

  • Work out 3-4 times each week (average). FAIL. I only worked out 11 times this month because for the past 2 weeks I’ve been nursing some sort of weird hip flexor issue. I know I injured myself in a field hockey game, but am not sure how I did it. So I haven’t been doing any cardio except for field hockey games (not even practices), and have gone easy on the climbing. It’s slowly getting better though, so fingers crossed I can get back into it soon.
  • Check credit score. CHECK! Because I’m a Capital One customer, I now have access to their CreditKeeper website. So I can check my credit score for free on a weekly basis if I really want to.
  • List at least 5 things for sale online. FAIL. I listed one thing and it didn’t sell. :(
  • Research pet camera systems. CHECK! We ended up buying the PetCube Play. I found it new on eBay for $125 (regular $260 + tax/shipping on their website). I have it set up now, and it’s actually really fun to check in on Zoey. Except that most of the time she’s sleeping. :)
  • Work on freelance business. CHECK! I’ve got a couple of freelance jobs scheduled for this year, and one potential one for the first few months of 2018.
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