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?

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Awesome job on hitting $1760 a month in retirement savings. That is definitely a great achievement and one that will carry you to early retirement.

    Having the corporate match for the RRSP and the SPP and maxing them out is definitely the way to go. Who doesn’t love free money right? Most people who actually save would be envious of those two programs – the only thing possibly better would be a good defined benefits pension, I think.

    I agree with you on the “auto-Pilot Boredom” aspect of the Couch Potato Portfolio. I know it is the right thing to do, but I also love having some “noodling” money for investing. I love the research and learning involved, and the possibility of making a bit more money (or a lot – this last year has been very, very good). Mind you, the first few years I invested, like you, I did not really know what I was doing. Not that I am Warren Buffet or anything these days, but time is definitely a teacher when it comes to the Stock market.

    You definitely have good discipline in this regard, and it is something that everyone can learn from – myself included.Thanks for that.

  2. Laura says:

    Awesome breakdown of your retirement fund – thanks for sharing. It is very similar to what I do (including having some ‘fun money’ to invest in individual stocks I like) and it is great to hear from others to validate the approach.

    I love the idea of being able to retire at 50, it gives you a lot of options. I am new to your blog so excuse me if you have already answered this question but do you have any tips for someone looking for a fee only adviser?

  3. Jeremy says:

    I’m curious why you are doing both the TD and Questrade TFSA if you are doing Couch Potato in both? Are you using Questrade for a specific type of investment (eg. Canada vs. US?) or getting a better price? (e.g. ETF has lower fees vs. MF?) Other?

    I am Couch potato-ing using the TD e-series in my RRSP and TFSA and at one point decided that the potential advantages of an ETF strategy were not (yet) worth it for me / at the levels of investment I’m doing so I am curious if/how you decided otherwise. (And if I should re-evaluate! :) )

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Well I was originally only doing the TD e-series funds for my RRSP and TFSA but as my portfolio grew, I decided to diversify into Questrade and ETFs. That was only a couple of years ago. I’m unsure if I’ll move completely over from e-series to ETFs in the future (or just stop investing in the e-series and funnel everything over to ETFs), so for now I’m investing in both.

  4. Thanks for sharing your retirement portfolio with us, Krystal!

    Hubby and I just decided to max out our retirement contribution last month.

    If we keep doing that, we will be millionaires in 25 years. I know it’s long time, but it’s also exciting for us!

  5. Guy Meets FI says:

    Thanks for sharing! Long time Canadian reader here. Finally got the nerves to join in the fun. I use Tangerine instead, but I’m considering switching my investments. I also have a defined benefit pension plan, so it makes things a little different.

  6. Hadley says:

    Congratulations on reaching the $100,000 barrier to your retirement portfolio! I am almost there as well and just a shade (ok a few years) older than you so much respect. Obviously hitting that mark is goal one for me and my second goal is to continue increasing my retirement investment contributions monthly so that I can hit the second hundred thousand a bit faster.

    Really enjoy your blog.

  7. Lyn says:

    I am getting cold feet because of all the record-highs in valuation. Don’t get me wrong, that’s my emotion.The real me still invest nearly all my savings because, where else could the surplus money go if not for expenses (which I try to keep minimal) and investment?

    Caught me wonder, if there’s ever a day that investment market would actually go out of favor or human are just so smart now to continue this market fever forever.

  8. Congratulations on your effort so far, seems like you are working hard to retire early and seem to be finding success thus far. I wish you the best of luck!

  9. Dawn says:

    Krystal, absolutely love your blog and have been a longtime reader for years.

    I have a question about your RRSP and SPP. When you say that you “max out the corporate match for both,” does that mean you’re just investing as much as you can to get the match from work, or are you maxing each of them out per year–meaning contributing the most you can each year on top of the amount necessary for the match? Just curious about that distinction. Thanks!

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Hi, great question Dawn. :) What I mean is that I’m investing as much as I can to get the maximum match from work – which is 3% for my RRSP and the SPP is a 50% match up to a max of $1k employer contribution.

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