Give Me Back My Five Bucks

How has market volatility affected your investing strategy?

I’ll admit that I’m checking my investment portfolio more often these days, and despite knowing that the market will eventually rebound, it’s still painful to see my investments headed in the wrong direction.

A recent report released by BMO Bank of Montreal confirmed that other Canadians feel the same way as I do. It found that about half of Canadians (53%) feel that market volatility will continue at the same rate or worsen in 2016, but about the same percentage still expect the value of their portfolio to increase.

I know that even though my investments are down right now, it just means that they’re cheaper to buy at the moment. :) And I know that over the long run, the value of my portfolio will continue to climb. It’s just hard to see my net worth sliding.

The BMO report also indicated that mutual funds are the most popular investment being used by more than half of Canadians (52%), followed by stocks (39%), and then GICs (37%). The majority of my retirement portfolio is in indexed mutual funds. I also have money in ETFs and individual stocks, but nothing in secure investments like GICs.

What I found interesting about the report was that over half of Canadians (56%) are turning to professionals to seek financial advice. I didn’t realize the number was so high! A few years ago I had the opportunity to speak with an advisor, who helped me create a plan based on my financial situation at the time. But now that so much has changed in my life, I’ve been thinking about meeting with an advisor again.

Even though I’m good at saving, and automatically contribute to a variety of different investment vehicles, I’m not a professional and having someone look into my investments and current plan to make sure that I’m on the right track to meet all of my long-term financial goals is something I’m definitely open to. Plus, an advisor can help provide clarity and insight to some secure investment vehicles I may not already use – like GICs, which offer predictable returns and can weather the changing market.

I also have a large sum of money sitting in high interest savings accounts (from the sale of my house), and given the current market conditions, I’m not interested in investing in anything too risky in case I want to use that money for a down payment later on.

Having a conversation with an advisor can help you maintain confidence in what you are doing, and also make sure that you have realistic expectations about your portfolio. Even if you don’t go on a regular basis, I do think it’s important to talk to someone whenever you encounter a big life change that alters your financial situation – like when you buy a home, change careers, or come into a windfall.

Even though my investments aren’t doing as well as they could be, I’m not changing my approach to investing. My portfolio allocations remain the same, and I’m confident that if I keep saving at my current rate, I’ll achieve all of my financial goals. I just might need an advisor to confirm that I’m on the right path. :)

Has your investment strategy changed at all given the current market volatility?

Note: this post was sponsored by BMO Bank of Montreal, however the views and opinions expressed are my own.

January 2016 Budget: Recap

This was a good start to the year for me. I didn’t hit my budget (as you can see below), but that was mostly due to an unplanned charitable donation, as well as getting a piece of artwork framed.

January was our first full month living together in our little house, and I couldn’t be happier. The place is cozy, and we are in love with this neighbourhood. It’s also nice getting into a morning routine, establishing chores, and figuring out how we can best live together.

I’ve also almost been at my job for 3 months, and it’s been really good so far. It’s a big step up in terms of responsibility, and since I’m naturally introverted, it’s really challenging me to reach outside of my comfort zone. I think that’s why I like marketing in this particular industry – I’m doing a lot less designing and writing, and focusing more on the skills I think I can improve on, as well as the ones that I’m strongest in.

Anyway here is my budget recap for January:


Over Budget

  • Food – We have been going to the local farmer’s market, where produce is quite a bit more expensive than our local grocery store. But the budget buster this month was my love of kombucha. I just need to get a grip, or perhaps start brewing my own.
  • Household – Some of you might have seen on Instagram that I finally got a piece of art that I bought in Morocco professionally framed. Yep I could have done it myself, but because the canvas needed to be stretched and it wasn’t put under glass, I figured I’d better leave it to a professional.
  • ClothingI have a $500 budget for clothing and shoes this year, and I’ve already spent $110 of it. :) But to be fair, I bought a pair of colder weather shoes that I’ve been wanting for walking around the city. Before those shoes, I either had hiking boots or rain boots.
  • Miscellaneous – A dear friend in Australia will be shaving her head in order to raise money for cancer research in March, so I wanted to support her. I don’t donate money to specific charities each year – but do make sure to donate to causes my friends are supporting whenever I can. If you’d like to help her out, check out her donation page!

Income & Savings

This month I grossed over $9,400 from a combination of my full-time job and freelance work, and was able to save 54.8% of that amount.

I’ve also signed contracts for about $11,000 in additional freelance income that I’ll be invoicing out by April, which is abnormal for sure. But I’ll take it, since I’m sure the summer months will be a lot quieter. :)

January Goals

  • Run once per weekFAIL. Although, we run for about 30 min. before each field hockey practice, so that’s gotta count for something, right? :) I’ll try this running thing again once the season is over.
  • Transfer all my banking over to Tangerine. CHECK! I have moved all my daily banking over to Tangerine, and it feels really good.
  • Pack my lunch 4x/week & no take-out coffee (unless social). CHECK! I think I did really well packing my lunch, and I didn’t get take-out coffee at all this month. I need to be better at keeping snack food at my desk though, because I did notice I was going to the grocery store a couple times per week to pick up an afternoon snack.
  • Be a good roommate. CHECK! This month I learned that RD keeps a much cleaner house than me. Each week, he mopped the floors, scrubbed the counters, cleaned the bathroom – and I contributed by not getting in his way. He said he doesn’t mind cleaning, and since I really dislike it, we jointly decided that he’ll be the one to keep the house clean. :) My chores include day-to-day tidiness, like making the bed, taking out the trash/recycling, keeping the refrigerator and pantry organized, and doing the laundry.

February 2016 Budget

February is going to be a fun month. :)

First for the blog – this month marks 9 years of blogging at GMBMFB. NINE YEARS! That seems insane. I’ll be doing a really cool giveaway later this month, so please watch out for it.

In other news, we finally committed to joining a rock climbing gym, but we are only signing up for a 1-month membership ($95) for now. If we decide to commit to a longer membership period, we could see this cost drop down to $60/month. A drop-in session is $18 and a 10-visit pass is $16 per session, so it was a no-brainer to opt for the membership since we’ll be going at least 2x/week.

We are also headed back to Victoria for the long weekend. It’s my family’s Chinese New Year celebration, and I’m excited for a nice dinner out, as well as a few brunch dates set up with my island friends.

Entertainment expenses are also a bit high this month because we are going to the Elliott Brood concert. I also bumped up my food budget by $25 to accommodate for rising food prices, and my kombucha obsession. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve considered starting to brew my own at home.


February 2016 Goals:

  • Find alternative parking – I gave my notice at my parking stall (I have to pay for one more month after this, unless they can find another renter faster), and am going to try to find a different (free) option for parking near my work. $60/month is a steal in Vancouver, but I think I can find a better solution. And once I do? An extra $60 will be going into my savings account every month!
  • Save $2,000 in my retirement portfolio – my normal contributions are $1,350/month, but since I’m passed my probation, that will rise to $1,500/month due to my employer contribution (and an extra $1,000 per year in company stock). So that leaves me with an additional $500 I will need to come up with for this goal.
  • Declutter my closet – I recently purged my clothes in December when we moved, but I feel the need to do it again. There are items that I just don’t wear at all, and I want to get rid of them because they’re taking up space and slowing me down when it comes to dressing in the mornings. :)
  • Cook one new recipe a week – we have been obsessed with the Oh She Glows cookbook but at the rate we’re going, we’ll run out of recipes. :) I’d like to try the Thug Kitchen cookbook, because I’ve heard nothing but good things about it!

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