Give Me Back My Five Bucks

November 2011 Goals: Recap

November has been a pretty good month. I stayed under budget, which was the most important thing. But I also learned that gas is included in the strata fees of my townhouse complex (I called the gas company – yes I am clearly a great homeowner since it took me 7 months). I figured I’d get a quarterly gas bill or something for my fireplace, but it never came. And none of the strata documents mentioned that gas was included. So that means I only need to pay for my hydro bill, which will probably stay constant around $25/month throughout the winter, since I’m not going to turn on my baseboard heaters now that I know I don’t have to pay my gas bill. :)

OVER BUDGET

  • Cell phone – Nic and I went to Seattle in October for 2 nights, and I kept the $10 data roaming plan from September’s trip to Chicago for FINCON.
  • Food – a random trip to Costco to stock up on the essentials.
  • Entertainment – I forgot that the Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil show was this month, so I went a bit over in this category because a girlfriend came to town to go to the show with me.
  • Miscellaneous – I bought 2 group coupons, a $15 ferry reservation, as well as a $50 Starbucks gift card.

NET WORTH CHANGE:  + $1,883 (3.07%)
There’s not much to say about my net worth. It continues to climb somewhat steadily, so I’m happy about that. My Emergency Fund is sitting around $7,800 right now, and I’m really excited to get to my $10,000 goal. I plan on putting as much of my savings into my EF as possible, and should have it fully funded in 2 months – by the end of January. :)

November 2011 Goals:

  • Make an additional $3,000 above and beyond my FT job. CHECK! I made $3,594 in freelance income. Not as much as I’ve made in the past couple of months, but it’s a solid amount and I’m satisfied.
  • Contribute $800 towards my Retirement Portfolio. FAIL. I only contributed $625 because I’m in the middle of setting up a new TFSA mutual fund account with TD Canada Trust.
  • Contribute $500 towards my Travel Fund. FAIL. I put nearly $1,300 into my Emergency Fund instead, leaving my Travel Fund looking a little sad. But in the end, it’s all savings.
  • Run 8 times. FAIL. I didn’t run once. Not one time. I’m officially giving up, and will regroup in January when I get back from vacation. Although, I think working out 3x/week at field hockey should be good enough for exercise.
  • Finish my scrapbook. FAIL. Nope. I didn’t even try.
  • Read 10 articles about investing. CHECK! I read a lot of articles about the TD e-series mutual funds, TFSA strategies, and spoke in depth with a financial advisor about investing.
  • Give up chocolate. CHECK! I didn’t think I’d be able to do it, but I did. No chocolate for an entire month, and it wasn’t even that hard! :)

Ongoing 2011 Annual Goals:

  • No buying lunch, snacks or coffee during the work week. FAIL. I bought my lunch once.
  • No buying clothing, shoes or accessories until December 31, 2011. CHECK! In fact, I gave away 2 bags of clothing. :)
  • Work out at least 3x/week. CHECK! I worked out 12 times this month.

Spending Recap: November 21-27, 2011

Monday 21st
$50 Starbucks (loaded a Starbucks card to take advantage of their rewards system)
$24.48 Amazon.ca (6 Christmas presents)

Tuesday 22nd
No Spend Day!

Wednesday 23rd
No Spend Day!

Thursday 24th
+ $861.19 freelance/side income
$34.10 White Spot

Friday 25th
+ $152.99 freelance/side income
$3.75 parking
$3.75 Skytrain
$3.75 Skytrain
$20 BC Daily Deals (2 x $10)
$6.35 beer

Saturday 26th
$20.23 groceries
$9.03 Pho Tan’s

Sunday 27th
No Spend Day! 

WEEKLY EXPENSES– $175.44
WEEKLY SIDE INCOME *+ $1,014.18

TOTAL: + $838.74

First, the big HUGE news of last week – I made my television debut on CTV News Channel! That’s right, this little blogger was on national TV, talking about Black Friday shopping tips. :) Even though it wasn’t the smoothest interview (if you saw the interview, you could probably tell that I was really nervous), after years of declining TV interviews, I finally conquered my fear of live television. And I’m really proud of that. It can only get easier from here on out (I hope).

Now, back to the weekly recap. I don’t think I’ll end up earning more than $4,000 this month in freelance income (like I did during September and October), but as long as I can keep this amount steady (above $3,000), I will start to gain confidence that I can count on a certain level of income each month.

This week I started my Christmas shopping. I purchased 6 gifts (worth $180) for only $24.48 on Amazon.ca, thanks to Swagbucks. Most of you know that I save up Swagbucks to purchase Amazon gift certificates throughout the year, then spend them all around Christmas time to help cut down the cost of gifts.

I also bought 2 daily deal coupons for bowling at a place down my street ($10 for 2 games/shoe rentals for 2 people). I really, really like bowling, so I’m excited to play with my boyfriend. In case you’re wondering how I go about buying these daily deal coupons – I only buy for activities that I do on a regular basis, and would pay full price for anyway. That way, I’m not wasting money just because it’s a “good deal.”

Oh, and finally, I bought a $50 Starbucks gift card. Since I seem to be working at the coffee shop most nights, it makes sense to get a card and reap the benefits of their rewards system. Most evenings I just buy a green tea anyway. There’s just something about the background noise of the coffee shop that helps me work better.

This is all income I bring in that is above and beyond my full-time job. Money is primarily made through my two blogs and my graphic design business.

Rebalancing my investment portfolio

Now that I’ve had a few days to go over the recommendations put forth by the financial advisor, I can share with you what he has told me about my investment portfolio. Please read my previous post, “Financial advisors: do you have one?” or my two posts on Moneyville about my experience with my financial advisor: “Why I decided I needed a financial advisor” and “How I heading for Freedom 55.”

First, here’s a background of what I’m invested in:

Holdings in TD Mutual Funds (mostly e-series): CDN Money Market, Canadian Index-e, U.S. Index-e, European Index-e, Japanese Index-e, CDN Bond Index-e, International Index-e, TD Dividend Growth.

  • Asset allocation
    • 91.7% stocks
    • 2.7% bonds
    • 5.6% cash
  • Geographic allocation
    • 51.6% Canada
    • 24% U.S.
    • 24.4% International

I learned that while my geographic allocation is good, my asset allocation is too risky. The financial advisor recommended rebalancing to 70% stocks and 30% bond funds, and advised that my portfolio is over-diversified. For example, the allocations contained in both the European and Japanese index-e funds are contained within the International index-e fund.

He also called me out on investing in the Dividend Growth fund, which is boasting a lame 2.03% MER. :) I always meant to take care of that, but you know. Things happen. That was the original fund I held when I first opened up my mutual funds and hadn’t yet invested in the e-series funds. And as for the CDN Money Market fund, that was a left-over “placeholder” fund for when I was taking out my money for the Home Buyer’s Plan. I meant to re-distribute back into the e-series funds, but had problems because my investor profile wasn’t in sync with what I wanted to invest in. Then I got frustrated, and just left it.

The financial advisor told me that I should simply my portfolio from 8 mutual funds down to just 4, and suggested this allocation:

  • 20% Canadian Index-e
  • 25% U.S. Index-e
  • 25% International Index-e
  • 30% CDN Bond Index-e

Based on my $80,000 projected income this year, I’m saving 13% of my gross annual income into my Retirement Portfolio (which is around $400 bi-weekly broken down into $300 RRSP/$100 TFSA). The financial advisor told me that if I really want to retire by the age of 55, I will probably need to start saving more aggressively. He suggested I might need to go higher than 20% of my gross annual income. I already knew I wasn’t saving enough, but hearing it from somebody else is still a little disheartening. I’m already almost 30 (maybe), and my goal retirement age is only 25 years away.

As soon as I max out my Emergency Fund at $10,000 (I’m at around $7,000 right now), I will funnel that cash ($100 bi-weekly) into my Retirement Portfolio. That will bring me to around 16%, which isn’t ideal, but it’s a good first step. Once I’m there, I’ll figure out my next move.

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