Time to do my financial goal declaration for 2009.

With my wife going back to work part time, the income from her side will be slightly less than what we are getting now from maternity benefits.  Reason?  The actual income should be about the same, but the fees are higher.  Medical insurance, pension contributions, professional dues etc will eat into the paychecks.  However, regardless of my wife’s salary, I plan to continue focusing on earning more income.

Another bold market return goal this year?  With the possibility of an extended bear market, who knows what the markets will return.  Perhaps it would be prudent to focus on savings goals instead.  Rather than saying that I’m going to save a certain percentage of my income, lets clearly define what I’m going to do with the savings.

  1. Open a TFSA with a discount brokerage and maximize the contribution – As of January 1, 2009 (or a bit later), some discount brokerages will offer a tax free trading account.  We will open 2 accounts, one for each spouse, maximize the contribution ($10k total), and start the TFSA income fund strategy that I’ve written about before.
  2. Maximize RRSP Contributions – Due to higher income in 2008, my contribution limit will be higher and I plan to maximize my contribution.  This will do two things.  One, it will put some cash into my RRSP account so that I can buy beaten up equities.  Two, it will reduce my taxable income significantly in 2009.
  3. Pay Down Mortgage Principal by $20,000 on Top of Regular Mortgage Payments – Seems like a stretch, but in addition to maximizing both the TFSA and RRSP, I plan on paying down the mortgage principal by an additional $20,000.
  4. Charity Goals – As charitable giving is becoming more important to our family, we plan on giving at least $3,000 this year to registered charities.  In addition to the financial contribution, we plan on donating at least 30 hours of our time to a local charity that we support.
  5. Blog Goals – The quality of the Million Dollar Journey community never ceases to amaze me.  I hope to continue the strong readership growth of this blog in reaching 7,000 subscribers by the end of the year.
  6. Dividend Income Goals – One of my higher priority goals is to increase my passive or alternative income.  My current Smith Manoeuvre portfolio is paying about $1,000/year in dividends which I plan to increase this year.  Combining both my dividend portfolio along with our TFSA’s, I hope to reach $2,500/year in investment income by the end of 2009.

There you have it!  My financial goals for 2009.  I believe that writing down or declaring your goals is great motivation to keep pushing towards your desired results. 

Care to share your financial goals for 2009? Feel free to use this thread as your personal finance goal diary.  Big or small goals, it will help keep me motivated (and hopefully you) in knowing that readers are working towards acheiving their financial goals as well.


  1. Marky on January 8, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Well I would like to be able to put up 20 000$ on my mortgate! I will target more like 2000 to 3000 this year.. that’s a beginning!

    So wish you good luck for your 2009 financial goals:) If you make all you list, this would be a great “financial” years for you man!

  2. Miranda on January 8, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Good luck in 2009! My goals: rebuild the emergency fund, save up to put in a yard, refinance the house to a shorter term and a lower rate.

  3. archanfel on January 8, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Well, after the horrific 2008, my goal should be for my investment to grow by 50%. I doubt that’s going to happen, so I will keep last year’s goal.

    1. Investment grow by 6% (even this is doubtful given the market)
    2. Save 40% of my before tax income

    One additional goal
    1. Max out RRSP and file T1213 as soon as possible.

  4. Dividend Growth Investor on January 8, 2009 at 10:58 am

    My long -term goal is dividend income of at least twice my monthly expenses.
    Goal for 2009 – dividend growth exceeding 6%, few if any dividend cuts.

  5. KnowledgeSeeker on January 8, 2009 at 11:06 am

    This will be a big year for my new bride and me. We will soon be moving to the “big city”, where I will be starting a completely new job. My goals are first and foremost to educate myself (and my partner) regarding our personal finances, develop a (measureable) plan to realize our goals, and make 2009 the year that we really begin our march toward a secure financial future. And my first step? Stop lurking and join MDJ, ask questions and take advantage of the great advice from FT and all the readers!

  6. Ramona on January 8, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Wow, aggressive goals for sure FT! Very impressive. Working on my defining my goals hopefully this weekend, but mortgage paydown is the major one – first eliminate the line of credit from the new bathroom, then dump all that money into the mortgage.

  7. rob on January 8, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    My girlfriend and I just started out in our first FT post-university jobs this past year. We were lucky to come out of school with a sizable emergency fund already in place.

    Since this year will be my first year with a full year of steady/good income I plan to max out my RRSPs.

    Cut down on variable expenses – which shouldn’t be hard as they were high due to moving out on our own.

    We’ve already maxed out our TFSA accounts during the ING promo.

    Those are the givens.

    The Questionables:

    Alternative Income – attempt to make an additional $500/month. This is a goal, rather than a necessity. A combination of hobby/resume padding.

    Determine where to put our money for long-term savings. Right now all of our money is just sitting in ING Savings Accounts – I would like to look into what to do with this these funds. The hardest part about this is just the state of the markets and volatility, and my lack of experience and knowledge.

    Your charitable donations are huge! We set aside $40 a month for charity.

  8. Jody on January 8, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    In 2008 I successfully paid off my car a year early and kept myself credit card debt free which should enable me to reach my 2009 goals.

    1. Double RRSP contribution over last year (now up to 10% of income)
    2. Put $5,000 in Tax Free Savings Account (made 1st contribution today)
    3. Save $1,500 for trip with my mom
    4. Make extra mortgage payment each month.
    5. Stay on budget so I can accomplish items 1-5.

  9. nobleea on January 8, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    I would like to sell my rental condo to get rid of the debts associated with it and reduce my exposure to the real estate market.

    Finish renovating the main floor of our house, and pay for renovations with cash.

    Set up a TFSA for both my wife and I and put emergency savings and monthly contributions in them.

    Get a will drawn up for us newlyweds.

    Grow my self directed RRSP by 20%, not including contributions.

    Get out of my car lease and buy a cheaper car.

    Increase our net worth by 15%.

  10. Kathryn on January 8, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    1) Increase our net worth by $15,000 through a combination of RRSP’s TFSA’s, making extra mortgage payments, and hopefully an upturn in the market sometime this year.

    2) Set up TFSA for hubby and I. (Done for me but not for him.)

    3) Transfer emergency fund to TFSA’s. (Done for me but not for him)

    4) Increase passive / alternative income to $200 a month.

    5) Consider, research and explore the idea of finding other work.

    6) Continue our charitable giving.

  11. Cow on January 8, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    My main financial problem is debt in the US right now; I still have a giant pile of student loans from when I was a student there. I have absolutely no debts in Canada, so it’s all assets here, which is nice.

    My goals for 2009 are to continue to pay US$1,000/month on the debt–this is way more than the minimum payments, but I want to be done with it. (It’s “bad debt,” even though the degree was definitely a good investment.) Above that, I want to maximize my TFSA for the year, and get some more into RRSP and my short-term account. I won’t be able to maximize my RRSP due to the debt payments, but I’m trying to save whatever I can.

    I live in a nice apartment in downtown Vancouver–which means my rent is *way* too high. By the end of 2009 I want to move and cut my rent by at least a third. (I can do that and still live where I want to; rents are falling fast here.)

    Finally, I want to increase my income. This mostly comes in terms of asking my bosses for a raise, since it’s been over a year; however, given the current economy, who knows. Barring that, I’m hoping to find little bits of on-the-side consulting work or freelance writing to pick up a few extra dollars here and there.

  12. canucktuary on January 8, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    1) Continue making RRSP contributions for retirement equal to 5% of pretax income.
    2) Contribute $1400 a month up to May to my Tradefreedom TFSA account, buying under valued stocks (betting on a large rebound by the end of 2009)
    3) Contribute up to my tax bracket threshold on feb 28 to put into a new account to be used for the HBP in 2010. This account will be low yielding.
    4) Starting in May continue contributing $1400 a month to HBP savings account
    5) Total savings rate will be 40% pretax, 30% post tax.
    6) Look for cheaper apartment when lease expires in June. Looking for savings of $400 a month
    7) Aggressively monitor spending using iSpend application for the iPhone.

  13. Jewel of Toronto on January 8, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    2009 is the year I am going to get serious about finances and my goals are lofty but achievable.

    1. Save 15% of income in RRSPs, TFSA, etc.
    2. Increase net worth by at least 200%
    3. Reduce revolving debt by $10,000
    4. Stick to a budget. For good.

  14. Jewels (from MTL) on January 8, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Good goals FT!
    This is the year I’m getting serious about money.

    1 – Look for a higher paying job – I’ve already had interviews with 2 companies and a second interview set up with one of them on Monday (yay!) – I’m expecting at least 15-20k more (I’m very underpaid right now).

    2 – Looking also at the opportunity of part-time alternative income, something I can do from home through the Internet – still exploring this one.

    3 – Double my regular RRSP contributions

    4 – Contribute the full 5k to a TFSA

    5 – Open a Questrade account and start buying dividend-paying stock with my above mentioned RRSP and TFSA contributions. I’ve been doing research for 5 months now (thanks FT and D4L!) and I’m ready to move on from mutual funds.

    All the best FT (and to everyone on here) in 2009!

  15. Aman@BullsBattleBears on January 8, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Sounds like some solid goals.

    mine are basically similar to previous years:

    -trim expenses by 5%
    -have a return of over 80% on the stock market
    -obtain two more condo rental units

  16. Up North on January 8, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    My goals:

    1) Enroll in employer’s deferred salary leave program, decreasing my gross income by 18% but having six months off two years from now.

    2) Pay off 75% of remaining student loan (contingent of secondary income). If secondary income doesn’t pan out, pay off a minimum of 50% of remaining student loan.

    3) Pay off the car loan.

    4) Contribute at least $4000 to RRSP/TFSA

    5) Have at least $5000 in a savings account by November.

    6) Stick to the budget for my wedding this July.

    7) Secure an interest-free loan to retrofit the exterior of the house.

  17. Sampson on January 8, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Wow. some very aggressive goals MDJ. Just a quick question, your $20k above base mortgage payments – does this already include monthly top ups?

    My goals – starting from easy to hard.
    1. Increase net worth (2008 was brutal).
    2. Make a will for wife and myself.
    3. Contribute $5k into each of 2 TFSAs (hehee, transfers count right?)
    4. Finish portfolio restructuring (dump investments with high MERs).
    5. Pay $15000 above base payments into mortgage.
    6. Increase passive income to $2000/month.

    Good luck to all of us in the new year!

  18. Acorn on January 8, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Cut expenses, maximize RRSP, open TFSA… Are there any new ideas or other goals outside of this box? What is financially successful (I mean REALLY successful) people are going to do? Can we scale down their goals to match our potentials? Can we then push our goals to the limits? If not, the 2010 goals will look very similar to 2009 ones. Boring…

  19. Kathryn on January 8, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Sampson ~ Can you share your secrets on $2000/ a month of passive income? That’s fantastic!

    Acorn ~ Great wealth is built on boring. I’m reading through http://www.amazon.com/Snowball-Warren-Buffett-Business-Life/dp/B001OD41DY/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1 and talk about a boring, but incredibly successful road to wealth.

  20. TDang on January 8, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Paid off our main mortgage in 2008. Our goal for 2009 is to pay as much as we can towards our rental property to reduce the interest at the end. Bought our rental property October 2008 for 290K the balance is sitting at 265K right now.

    Paying down our rental property is one of our main goal but also would like to do more family vacation this summer.

    Cheers everyone for 2009!

  21. Stock Investing Guru on January 8, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    My goals are to:

    1. Buy a rental condo as an investment, and cash flow from it.

    2. Increase my website readership and prominence at http://www.InvestorPitStop.com.

    Please support me if you like the site, because I like to be active on sites I enjoy like MillionDollarJourney.com. Suggestions are welcomed.

    3. Either get accepted to a good grad school.

  22. TDang on January 8, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Well, we finally paid off our first mortgage in 2008. Our goal for 2009 is pay down as much as we can towards our rental property. Bought our rental property in October/08 for 290K and today balance is sitting at 265K. We also planning to travel more this year during the summer when the kids is off from school.

    Cheers for 2009!

  23. Sampson on January 8, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Kathryn – the $2k is not net though – 75% of that is from a rental property from which we have a marginal -ve cash flow – I don’t remember if it was a recent post from MDJ or somewhere else, but I’ve decided to quantify this. I’ve been lucky with a really good tenant.

    The remainder ~$500 is from interest, distributions and dividends.

    Savings and investing is such a funny numbers game. I think it’d be more meaningful expressed as a % since we expect lower rental income this coming year.

  24. The Reverend on January 9, 2009 at 1:14 am

    1. Reduce spending $400 per month.
    2. Increase household income by $15k.
    3. Charitable donations of 10%.
    4. Smooth cashflow with T1213.
    5. Pay down mortgage by $15000 total (we have an all-in-one).
    6. Move some non-reg stocks into TFSA with Questrade.
    7. Improvoe tax-efficiency of investment portfolios.

  25. Nurseb911 on January 9, 2009 at 2:13 am

    1. Buy a house
    2. Get engaged
    3. Increase cashflow from investments & reduce investment risk
    4. Incorporate & launch my small business
    5. Spend more free time with family/friends

  26. Millionaire Acts on January 9, 2009 at 4:59 am

    I also have my own share of my financial goals for 2009.


  27. Greg on January 9, 2009 at 11:42 am

    I am torn on what to do in 2009!

    I’m torn between trying to lower my LOC as much as possible to help lower my monthly interest payments OR dumping as much money into investments this year.

    My LOC is @ prime which makes borrowing cheap and there are many many great deals in the market right now… however cash is king in uncertain times and lowering my monthly interest bills would be very beneficial.

  28. Sampson on January 9, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Greg – why not just do both. You’ll still have to make some decision on proportions, but 50:50 would keep it simple. If you have objective reasons you think either interest rates or equities will go up, then that should steer you towards an unequal bias (paying down debt vs. new investments).

  29. Peter B on January 11, 2009 at 1:08 am

    My goals for 2009:

    1. Finish my professional designation
    2. Look at buying a home
    3. Buy newer car
    4. Start a family
    5. Max out remaining RRSP contribution room
    6. Try to take advantage of good dividend yields as cash flow permits
    7. Get out of high MER mutual funds, will require penalty though…

    No solid numbers like other posts such as increase net worth by 20% because I have not been tracking things like that yet. School first then life…

    Happy investing everyone in 2009!!!

  30. Sarlock on January 11, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Goals for 2009:
    1. Put $5,000 into each of my and my wife’s TFSA’s. (if they ever actually get approved by parliament)
    2. Maximize RRSP contributions for both myself and my wife
    3. Get our home sold and put the equity in to a vacation home in Florida and the balance in to dividend-bearing investments and rent for the next 1-3 years while the real estate market bottoms out.
    4. Eliminate the remainder of our debts by the middle of the year..
    5. Save the balance of our earnings to buy a piece of land to build our dream home on

    Lofty… and so goals should be.

  31. Canucktuary on January 11, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Sarlock, TFSAs were already approved by parliament in last year’s budget.

  32. Sarlock on January 12, 2009 at 3:30 am

    I went in to the RBC on Monday and they are not able to set TFSA’s up until 2 weeks from now because parliament has to approve something.

    I guess for those banks that set them up early for people, you’ll have to pay tax on any earnings from Jan 1st until it’s ready to go.

    Send your thank you cards to Mr. Dion for that one.

  33. Gates VP on January 12, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Let’s see, in brief:
    Quality of life
    – $3k down on an $8k car
    – Trip to a cousin’s wedding
    – Trip to NY for New Year’s Eve
    – Get monthly facials for wife and monthly massages for myself. (local spa)
    – Add a weekly dancing course to our monthly bills (local dance club)
    – Improve home computer setup (home server)

    Investment / Savings
    – Boost EF by $2k+
    – Buy one or two ounces of gold (wish I had cash for this last year, but it ain’t getter any cheaper)
    – Pay for wife’s Personal Training courses
    – Learn and use a new programming language (F#, JQuery, YUI) as an investment in my ongoing education.

    Wow I see a lot of pretty hefty goals here. Good luck to everyone.

  34. Kei on January 12, 2009 at 11:38 am

    My goals for 2009:

    1. Finish professional designation
    2. Get a better paying job
    3. Get a (used) car
    4. Save at least $10000 towards down payment for my future house (more if I managed to get a better job)
    5. Research on investing, equities, etc before jumping in

  35. nobleea on January 12, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Hey Gates,

    we went down to NY for NYE 2008. It’s quite the experience. Be sure to book hotels early as they all book up and get very expensive. We stayed at the Big Apple Hostel which is right beside Times Square. They close off MANY blocks around the square, so unless you’re in there at 2pm, you’re out of luck (OR if your hotel is in there ;) you can squeeze in at any time.)

  36. newbie on January 13, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    I’m also torn on my financial goals for this year. We’ve paid down our mortgage by $91K in the last 4 years, at the expense of our RRSP’s. We have monthly contributions to our RRSPs, but are no where close to maxing them out.

    Now we have a 2nd child in daycare and there isn’t enough disposable income to go around. I’m not even thinking of the TFSA yet!

    I guess we can concentrate of being even more frugal this year! (yes, we brown bag our lunches everyday, drink coffee at work only, cut down on eating out to once a week, switched to pay as u go cellphones, blah blah).

    One of the mortgages in our Homeline Plan is coming up for renewal in June and I’m even thinking of reducing the payment amount by $200/mth to channel it to the RESP (we stopped the monthly contribution last year after we reached the $2K mark). I don’t know if this is advisable.

  37. MAITE on January 25, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    2009 goals:

    get my credit score- I already got my credit report, how do I get a free credit score?

    pay off $3,000 credit card balance

  38. LakeTown on February 28, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    -Transferred 5k to TFSA already
    -Double regular RRSP contributions
    -Pay off my 1 student loan with 8k remaining
    -Bill due for new furnace and AC in May, that was installed in Nov. Almost have enough saved, will have rest when Ecoenergy grants come in (hopefully soon:)
    -Reduce grocery bill $100/month
    -Pay for some home renovations, new roof on section of house, hardwood in last carpeted room in house, resurface driveway. All will qualify for renovation tax credit next year!
    -Have 15k in savings in preparation for maybe going on mat leave again sometime in 2010 (still non commital about baby #2 timeline.)
    -Research life insurance
    -Get a will done
    -Take the plunge, get more educated about stocks, and start investing in more than just mutual funds.
    -Have husband contributing an income by summer.
    -Have 3-5k downpayment for 2nd vehicle, used of course.

  39. Ms Save Money on March 17, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Even though it’s March – 3 months into the year; After reading this article – I think I’m going to set some goals. Thanks for the motivation!

  40. Sampson on December 29, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Kathryn’s post on Dec 29th has me thinking about this post from a year ago.

    Here’s how I did:

    My goals – starting from easy to hard.
    1. Increase net worth (2008 was brutal).
    2. Make a will for wife and myself
    3. Contribute $5k into each of 2 TFSAs (hehee, transfers count right?)
    4. Finish portfolio restructuring (dump investments with high MERs)
    5. Pay $15000 above base payments into mortgage
    6. Increase passive income to $2000/month

    I did pretty well.
    1. Yes – by >23% – woo hoo!
    2. No – really really got to get this done
    3. Yes – about $13500 in there
    4. Yes – only a few mutual funds left – 90% done
    5. Yes – paid $16.8k above and beyond our accelerated biweekly payments
    6. No – have to rethink this one. rental income has been good, easy and steady, but decreased. Annual dividend income increased from $3700 to $4900.

  41. Financial Cents on December 29, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Nice job Sampson!!

    BTW – what did you invest your TFSAs in?
    Income trusts?
    Index funds?
    High-interest savings accounts?

    I’m leaning towards REITs for 2010.


  42. Sampson on December 30, 2009 at 3:00 am

    Oh, the TFSAs are a total of my wife and my own so not as impressive as you might think ;)

    We’re loaded up with REITS and strong income trusts (ones I will continue to hold after they convert to corporations). I plan to start some laddered GICs soon, when interest rates start to go up.

  43. Financial Cents on December 30, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Sampson, good for you!

    We put our 2009 TFSAs in high-interest savings accounts last year (we wanted immediate liquidity for emergency funds). For 2010 TFSAs, who knows? I do know we want something more income oriented…and less liquid.

    I was just writing to Frugal on that subject, given I was considering REITs for 2010 TFSAs. I wanted to get his experience with REITs or trusts like PGF.UN or COS.UN…but I was concerned about trust structure coming next year…

    I dunno, as I also go-back-and-forth with buying some good CDN dividend-payers in the TFSA. Yes, you lose the dividend tax credit and yes, you lose the abililty to claim a capital loss, but putting in a bank stock that pays consistent 4%+ dividends can’t be a bad idea, can it? :)

    Happy New Year!
    (Lots of financial reading and research for me in 2010 :)

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