Welcome to the Million Dollar Journey June 2009 Net Worth Update – The Car Shopping Edition.

With one of our cars already 8 years old, the repairs are starting to add up.  So we’re currently in the process of shopping for a good used car/compact SUV, preferably a late model that is off lease with low kilometers.  We are leaning towards foreign models (Honda/Toyota) as we have had good experiences with them in the past.  Do you have any used car buying tips?  Should I be looking at dealerships?  Or perhaps private sales are the way to go?  Here’s an article I’ve written in the past about negotiating your new car purchase.

Back to the topic at hand, the net worth update.  Not a big change this month with most of the increase due to savings.  Portfolios gained a little, but nothing compared to last month.  The markets have pulled back a bit since the June high and some analysts are calling that further correction is needed/inevitable.  I’m not sure of the future direction of the market, but I do know that there is a mountain of cash on the sidelines.  Once the fund managers start deploying their cash, I expect that the markets will aggressively go higher.

You may have noticed as well that our vehicles have been depreciating at an accelerated rate over the past few months.  That’s intentional as I am looking to take the cars off the balance sheet soon.

Assets: $447,350.00 (+1.29%)

  • Cash: $4,500 (+0.00%)
  • Savings: $11,000 (+46.67%)
  • Registered/Retirement Investment Account: $65,000 (+2.69%)
  • Pension: $22,350 (+0.00%)
  • Non-Registered Investment Account: $15,500.00 (+2.69%)
  • Smith Manoeuvre Investment Account: $46,000 (+2.22%)
  • Investment Property: $ 124,500 (+0.00%)
  • Principal Residence: $275,000 (+0.00%) (purchase price)
  • Vehicles: $8,000 (2 vehicles) (-11.11%)

Liabilities: $91,500.00 (-1.82%)

  • Tax Liability: $3,000 (-0.00%)
  • Investment Property Mortgage: $92,000 (-0.11%)
  • Principal Residence Mortgage (readvanceable): $35,500 (-6.58%)
  • HELOC balance: $53,000 (+1.53%)

Total Net Worth: ~$355,850.00 (+$7,400) (+2.12%)

  • Started 2008 with Net Worth: $309,950.00
  • Year to Date Gain/Loss: +14.81%

Some quick notes and explanations to net worth questions I get often:

The Cash

The $4,500 cash are held in chequing accounts to meet the minimum balance so that we pay no fees (accounting for regular bill payments). Yes, we do hold no fee accounts also, but I find value in having an account with a full service bank as the relationship with a banker can prove useful.


Our savings accounts are all held with PC Financial. We hold a fair bit of cash in case “something” comes up. The “something” can be anything that requires cash such as an investment opportunity that requires quick cash or maybe an emergency car/home repair.  We also need cash to cover any future tax liabilities.

Real Estate

Our real estate holdings consist of a primary residence plus a rental property. The value of the principal residence remains valued at the purchase price despite significant appreciation in the real estate market that we’re in.

Hope you have a great Canada Day!


  1. ED on July 1, 2009 at 8:43 am

    I would highly recommend Toyota RAV4. It’s a comfortable, fuel efficient, roomy, maintenance free, and easy to carry stuff in it. I bought mine used two years ago and I am so happy with it. I had no problem so far whatsoever. Go for a Toyota RAV4, you will not be disappointed.


  2. Kathryn on July 1, 2009 at 9:14 am

    I second Ed.

    Not that we have one but if I were looking for an SUV, the RAV4 is the first one that came to mind. Of they people I know who own one, they’ve all been really happy with it. It’s on our dream list for the next car.

    • FrugalTrader on July 1, 2009 at 9:35 am

      Thanks for the suggestion guys. I did a price/feature comparison for compact SUV’s the other day, and the RAV4 came out on top.

  3. PC on July 1, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Consider Subaru Forester. Winter driving became fun since I owned it about 5 years ago.

  4. WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo.com on July 1, 2009 at 11:50 am

    The 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up. It’s so choice.


  5. cannon_fodder on July 1, 2009 at 11:54 am

    I’m actually surprised you are getting rid of an 8 year old vehicle. Perhaps the quality of manufacture just wasn’t there.

    I’ve owned a Honda (lasted 10 years before rust took it over), a BMW (lasted 13 years before rust took it over) and now a Hyundai (8 years old but no rust thanks to annual rustproofing – I was a little slow, but now I get it). The Honda had over 200k on it and the BMW almost made it to 300k. The Hyundai has just under 150k.

    I’d get a used vehicle that still has some manufacturer warranty on it, hopefully at least a year. I know that some brands have certified vehicles that could extend this even more. You can save a lot with a private sale but you need to have a trusted mechanic give it a thorough check before committing.

    Either way, you’re in the driver’s seat.

  6. Melanie Samson on July 1, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Squawkfox has an excellent post on that very topic: http://www.squawkfox.com/2009/06/10/buying-used-cars-online/

    As I am quoted saying in that article, used car dealerships are not inherently evil and they have access to cars you wouldn’t find in private sale. Give both methods a try, and do your homework either way. I second having a mechanic take a look.

  7. mojo30 on July 1, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    8 year old car is old? i have a 13 year old accord still driving better then some of the newer cars friends have..my last civic was 18 years old before I had it towed to the dumpster.

    I agree with you on one front, go with Honda or Toyota..great cars..someone mentioned subaru, its a hit and miss. Also, expensive to fix.

  8. M Hawk on July 1, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    My vote goes to Nissan or Subaru. While I agree Subaru is a hit and miss, they have top notch resale value.

    My family has only owned Nissans, probably because we’ve never had a single problem with any vehicle we’ve bought from them. I’ve got a 94 Maxima that’s never had a single repair, but two paint jobs because it’s been driven into the ground. (and into a tree, and into another car…)

  9. Sampson on July 1, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Hey FT, congrats on the continued monthly increases.

    We bought a new CUV last year (ended up with the Nissan Rogue), and having test driven virtually every car in the class, I don’t know that recommendations are all that useful – it really comes done to some minutia that are personal taste (like interiors, wind and road noise etc). AWD is not necessary, just get a good set of snow tirers. Also in the class, don’t forget the Mitsubishi Outlander. Also, Hyundai’s are great value.

    You may seriously consider buying in the States, even though the exchange isn’t what it was a year ago. The differences in pricing are still worthwhile. Since its a used car, the transfer of title and registration are very easy to do. You’ll get more value from a private sale, just make sure you check the CarFax and get it thoroughly, thoroughly inspected by a close, trusted mechanic. I would also browse online car forums when you get close to finalizing your decision since some model years have very specific sets of problems.

    Check out this site too. Loads of ‘reliability’ data.


  10. Sif on July 1, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    The CUV segment is probably the best choice for you and the family. The Toyota RAV4/Honda CRV are the best choices within the segment. We have a 3 year old CRV, never a problem so far. It comfortably seats tall people in the back (6’2″ brother in law, sister 5’8″ & my 2 year old in her oversized car seat).

    If you’re looking for a new car, try the following website:

    It’s a $39.95 membership, but they provide invoice prices for any vehicle as well as dealer incentives. You get 5 uses (complete pricing and details). They also provide a local dealership that already knows the price and point of contact for you. No haggling over the price, just the lowest the dealership can provide. I’ve used it twice and saved a minimum of $3000 per use.

    Best of luck with the care hunting!

  11. Sam on July 1, 2009 at 3:38 pm


    I am hooked to this site like a drug addict. Good? Bad? Don’t know but that is how it is. Smile.

    I had a question on your YTD Gain/Loss. I am presuming the new money that you add to your portfolio is also considered when you report the net YTD Gain/Loss on the net worth – right? It is not necessarily that your investments alone have appreciated over 14% YTD. If yes, I need to kick myself since my investment portfolio shows half year return of only 6.58% (I use MS Money to track it).

    Before I kick myself hard, can you please clarify? Thanking you in advance.

  12. FrugalTrader on July 1, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    cf, I would keep the car longer, but it really is starting to fall apart at 8 years – even with regular maintenance.

    Melanie, thanks for the link and tips!

    Sampson, thanks for the link! I would consider the states, but travel from NL is quite a ways!

    Sif, thanks for the tip about CarCostCanada. I’m actually a member and it’s quite insightful the marginal profit that dealerships make.

    Sam, the gains include contributions, savings and investment gains.

  13. The Reverend on July 1, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Hi FT,

    Congrats on another step in the right direction toward your goals this month.

    You continue to suprise/motivate me with the amount of savings you can generate in a month. You must have a great handle and discipline on your personal budget.

    We make all of our retirement contributions via payroll deduction so we always get the long term savings part of our budget right but the short term can fluctuate a lot from month to month (up or down $1000s) depending on how well we manage our spending.

  14. Martin on July 1, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    I think it’s a good idea to switch cars. You may be frugal but you can still spend SOME money. You’re rich so enjoy it.

  15. auto insurance rates guy on July 1, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    I’d say you should get a Toyota or Honda. I might get flamed for not suggesting American, but then again I’ve never had a problem with anything except domestic makes.

    Resale value tends to be higher as well.

  16. Tom @ Canadian Finance Blog on July 2, 2009 at 12:42 am

    FT, The Rav4 wins for more than just cost… it’s continually the top rated small SUV in Consumer Reports. They look at price, but also reliability, safety, road tests, etc.

  17. Kirk S. on July 2, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Just a question for FT, why do you still include your rental property (even though its crossed out). It has been several months since you owned it, and I think its okay to just remove it from your postings (IMHO)

    • FrugalTrader on July 2, 2009 at 9:45 am

      Kirk, good point! It’s a result of copy/paste and laziness, lol. :)

  18. Alex on July 2, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I am also right now in the process of looking for a new car. Have 2 years old son and expecting a girl in couple of months. Initially thought about SUV, but since I am planning to keep a car for at least 6-8 years, thought that in case the family will grow in the future, small SUV might not be enough. So I am thinking now about Mazda 5. Would appreciate any thoughts on why SUV vs Mazda 5 vs minivan.
    Does anyone has expirience with Mazda 5?


  19. DAvid on July 3, 2009 at 1:09 am

    For those of you who don’t live in a severe maritime environment, 8 years is a LONG time for a car in St John’s. All winter there is salt on the roads, and all summer it is in the air. Thus, if FrugalTrader wants a bargain on a used car, he might want to take a trip to the mainland, and see what is available in vehicles to the west, and have a vacation driving it home.

    My Dodge is 14 years old, and still going strong. I spend about $1000 in repairs annually, and a few dollars in routine maintenance. A friend just sold his 2001 B3000 Mazda, because of the costs to maintain it – 3 years in St. John’s probably did it in, and 5 years in Calgary probably prolonged it’s life a bit.

    Like income & taxes — vehicle longevity varies between provinces.


  20. MoneyGrubbingLawyer on July 6, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Another great month, FT!

    As for the used car search, the RAV4 is decent but I find it painfully boring :). Definitely check out a used Subaru- I’m currently on Subaru number 2 and 3 and have found them to be unbeatable in terms of reliability, finish, and performance.

    I’d steer clear of dealers for a used car- they offer very little other than inflated prices. Some of the CPO programs are attractive, but not at the premium they charge for the certification. Depending on how ‘new’ of a used car you’re considering, also look at buying new- some of the current deals are quite incredible.

  21. FrugalTrader on July 6, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    MGL, we’re looking for something with a little bit of space, AWD, but fuel efficient at the same time. And of course, good bang for your buck.

    Subaru is definitely among the contenders, which Subaru model would you recommend?

  22. MoneyGrubbingLawyer on July 6, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    FT, either the Outback or the Forester would probably suit your needs. Some people find that the Outback is a little more comfortable and a bit roomier, but I’ve never found too much of a difference. The Forester will probably be a little less expensive. Drive each one and see what feels better for you- both are great vehicles.

    I’ve currently got a newer (2007) Impreza and while it works great for current purposes, I think it would be tight for a family with kids. When we have kids, we’ll be upgrading to one of the bigger models.

  23. PEIStuffOnline on July 8, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Bought a 2002 RAV4 in October with 100,000 km – paid $13,000 (final total with taxes, etc.). We absolutely love it and expect it to last at least 5 years. We found it as a private sale, but the seller then had us buy it through a dealer at the privately negotiated price so they could get the trade-in value – essentially this meant that we had to pay more taxes and some administrative headaches. I was able to convince the dealer to let us pay via PC mastercard and so we got some grocery points out of it at least!

    Our other car is 8 years old (PT Cruiser) and we may just replace it with a RAV4 as well – but may try to go to the Highlander because our 2nd child is due in a couple of weeks.

    Love MDJ – very closely related to my life path / goals / thinking – in fact I worked in high-tech for 9 years in Ottawa before moving to PEI!

  24. Blogging Banks on July 10, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    My first car ever was a 1998 Ford Zx2.. The car had a “service engine soon” lamp lighting up afte only 2 weeks of driving. (well the car had 120K +miles by the time it was purchased) – not a good sign.

    My next car will be a Mazeratti.. I am saving for it, and hopefully interest rates would pick up so I could reach my goal earlier ;-)

  25. Marc on July 13, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Check out Leasebusters.com – it’s a canadian site.

    There are often deals with large downpayments, or security deposits and/or cash incentives for late models with 36 to 48 months.

    They recently introduced FinancingBusters.com also. There are some great deals there also.

    For both sites, it’s best to sort the results by “Effective Payment” to flush out the best deals.

    BTW: Great site – very usefull, insightful and motivational!

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