Welcome to the Million Dollar Journey December 2010 Net Worth Update – The Year End Summary Edition. For those of you new to Million Dollar Journey, a monthly net worth update is typically posted near the end of the month (or beginning of the next) to track the progress of my journey to one million in net worth.  If you would like to follow my journey, you can get updates sent directly to your email.

The second half of 2010 brought a bull market that has propped portfolios all around the world.  My portfolios showed some gains this year, although in hindsight, I should have invested more of my cash.  Overall though, I’m very happy with the net worth result in 2010 finishing the year with a 26% overall gain and surpassing the $500,000 psychological milestone.

A reader suggested to post a graph of my net worth over the years.  As I’ve been tracking my net worth since late 2006, there are quite a few data points to go by, so I took some quarterly numbers and compiled them into a graph.  The data points are slightly off, but ignoring that, it’s all in the trend!   Our net worth has been trending upwards with the exception of when it plateaued a bit during the market crash of 2008/early 2009.  Although the trend correlates with the market direction, I would say that most of our net worth growth has been due to cash savings thus the reason why our net worth wasn’t affected too much by the market correction in 2008.


For those of you who track your net worth, how did you do in 2010?

On to the numbers:

Assets: $ 561,200.00 (-0.20%)

  • Cash: $4,500 (+0.00%)
  • Savings: $45,000 (+15.38%)
  • Registered/Retirement Investment Accounts (RRSP): $103,000(+1.48%)
  • Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA):  $20,950 (+1.45%)
  • Defined Benefit Pension: $32,400 (+1.25%)
  • Non-Registered Investment Accounts: $12,800 (+0.00%)
  • Smith Manoeuvre Investment Account: $59,300 (+2.24%)
  • Principal Residence: $283,250 (+0.00%) (purchase price adjusted for inflation)

Liabilities$55,400 (0.36%)

Total Net Worth: ~$505,800 (+1.87%)

  • Started 2010 with Net Worth: $399,600
  • Year to Date Gain/Loss: +26.58%

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 held with PC Financial and ING Direct. We usually 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 and REITs plus a rental property. The value of the principal residence remains valued at the purchase price (+inflation) despite significant appreciation in the local real estate market.


The pension amount listed above is the value of both of our defined benefit pension plans.  I basically take the semi annual statement and add the contribution amounts (not including employer matching) on a monthly basis.

Stock Broker Accounts

Another common question is which discount broker do I use?   We actually have accounts with multiple institutions.  I’m hoping to reduce the number of accounts that we hold in the near future.  Here is a review of some of the more popular online stock brokers.


  1. Echo on December 29, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Congrats FT, this has been a big year for you. Crossing the $500k net worth mark AND paying off your mortgage is huge! I think 2011 is going to be even more successful for you. Hopefully you’ll find something to occupy all that cash :)

  2. The Reverend on December 29, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Hi FT,

    Not meaning to burst your bubble, but when I take your assets (552k) and subtract liabilities (55k), I get slightly less than 500k net worth? Typo somewhere?

    Also, question for you and others out there, do you do any sensitivity testing on your net worth? ie impact of a 25% market correction? etc? I only ask because as my personal net worth has grown, I become increasingly uncomfortable with how sensitive it is to the market. Currently, about 45% of my personal net worth is invested in equities (another 5% in money market and ~50% in home equity).

  3. Brandon on December 29, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I just added up his assets and the value is 561k, not 551k. That explains his subtraction issue

  4. Jaymus (RealizedReturns) on December 29, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    I am envious! +26% on the year is a great achievement.. Can it be repeated?

  5. Mélanie Samson on December 29, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Now that we’re in the black, it’s been fun to watch our net worth go up. I’m looking forward to having the student loans completely gone so we can concentrate more on investing.

  6. krantcents on December 29, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Good job! I think the journey is more fun than the goal. When you get to your goal, make a new one. I’ll be watching.

  7. FrugalTrader on December 29, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement guys/gals!

    I’ve corrected the error, as Brandon mentioned, I didn’t put the correct total for assets.

    @ jaymus, not sure if it can be repeated, but we’ll surely try! We did 25%+ last year as well.

    @krantcents, yes, one million is only the beginning. :)

  8. DoNotWait on December 29, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    What an amazing year for you! That is awesome! Do you have a goal for next year?

  9. twentysomethingmoney on December 29, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    I’ve finally gotten into the habit of tracking my net worth, and only really go back 6 months… In that time though, I had a 91% increase — but I’m starting out, so its fairly easily to move that number up. Plus, I’ve had a pretty heavy focus on it, since I started.

    Congrats on what looks like a great year for you!

  10. Zip on December 29, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    You made it – half mil. :)
    All the best to you and your family in the new year.
    And wish you continued success.


  11. Ray on December 29, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Nice, 500k!

    Hey, before we get to 2011, can you create a poll that asks readers how much their TFSA is worth? I’m curious to see if every “single” person got to $12,500 or above or every “couple” got to $25,000 or above as the market for the last 2 years would dictate. I’m a bit surprised that yours is so low, not even $21k for the two of you??

  12. FrugalTrader on December 29, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    @Ray, that might be a good idea! Yes, our TFSA is very low as it’s sitting in mostly cash and short term bonds. I also have a bunch of cash sitting in RRSP’s (>$20k)

  13. Jungle on December 30, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Congrats! Your net worth really soared in 2010. We haven’t done our update yet, waiting for the end of the month. We are looking forward to a good increase over last month, thanks to savings and the markets.

  14. BROKE PROFESSIONAL on December 30, 2010 at 11:23 am

    My wife and my net worth is currently about ($100,000.00). As I always say, I could win $150,000.00 in a lottery and after paying taxes then have a net worth of $0.00. Thanks student loans!

  15. Sampson on December 30, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Wow. The guys can accumulate $500k but simple math… ;) jk Great work as usual!

    I’m most surprised at how linear and constant your NW gain has remained over three years.

    I think of things like baby and your wife’s mat-leave, selling your rental, buying a house, income growth, buying a car – despite all these life events, your NW is pretty steady-eddy. I suppose it is because your house is still fairly heavily weighted in your NW equation and those periodic mortgage payments help to smooth out NW gain or loss.

    I look at my own NW chart and all the ups and downs and increase/decrease in the rate/slope each time we have a life changing event. We had not hit 20% at the end of Nov, but with the Dec the markets have had, I’m guessing we’ll get to that % by year end.

    Do you have Y-O-Y increases for each category? I’m curious to know how much of your NW increase came from debt repayment vs. accumulated savings vs. gains in your investments?

    • FrugalTrader on December 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm

      LOL @ Sampson, it’s the simple stuff that gets me every time! That’s a great idea about showing where the net worth increases have come from, let me take a look.

  16. The Passive Income Earner on December 30, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Well done on you 500K! I am 25K shy but I should reach it within the first quarter of 2011. I did better than expected this year. I am up 70K overall. It’s the first time I really track it that way so I did not really know what to expect.

  17. Bernz on December 30, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Congrats for such an achievement. Cheers… I actually did very well this year (2010) and I thank the stock market for that. Portfolio was up 37% for 2010 and looking forward to 2011. Wish everyone here the best in 2011.

  18. Financial Cents on December 30, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Hey Frugal,

    Great stuff and an inspiration for sure!

    I’m curious to know what your NW goals for 2011 are. Have any?

    Beating 26% from this year will be a very tough challenge!

    Happy New Year and I look forward to stopping by your site for another insightful year.

    Mark from My Own Advisor

  19. Future Money-Bags on December 31, 2010 at 8:15 am

    Congratulatioins FT.

    Unrelated note: When you first started this blog, did you think that you would be making that much money from it? And did you think you would be doing this well for yourself after 4 years.
    For another 25% increase in 2011, I guess you would have to increase your NW by over $125k.. Do you think that is possible?

    I am all for accumulating more each year. I have yet to do my year end NW, I havent looked since end of november. It will be exciting to finish my november and december, and see how much I have grown this year!

    I started tracking last year in October, every penny I spend and every penny I earn. But due to a wedding (sisters), a couple long long awaited purchases, and a much needed vacation, I fell short of my goal.
    I will make up for it next year, and I post again when I finish the year.

    Congrats again, You should be 1kk by 2014, doooo itt!!

  20. FrugalTrader on December 31, 2010 at 9:22 am

    @ FMB, Thanks for the kind feedback. No, I did not expect my online biz to generate any “real” income, but i’m very grateful that it has. However, on the other hand, yes, I did expect (hope?) to be at this stage at this age, otherwise, it would be very challenging to reach $1M by 35. Another 25% increase will be a challenge and has quite a dependence on the market. If the market crashes next year, then I doubt 20% is possible, but otherwise, I’m going for it with fingers crossed!

  21. The Penny Hoarder on December 31, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Whoa! Look at that graph! Congrats Frugal Trader.

  22. Freedom 40 on December 31, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Nice Work.

    1.93% for the month, approx 16% on the year, representing about $61k in growth. Getting close to my age 35/$500k goal. 1.5 years to go. Still shooting for $1 million by age 40.

    The “FU” factor is progressing nicely for me!

  23. Briana @ GBR on December 31, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    This is definitely an inspiration. Congratulations on your continuous growth. I’m hoping to reach your level one day.

  24. Jungle on January 1, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Got our update done, up 31.5% for the year. Would love to share it, just click on my name :)

  25. jim on January 5, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Nice increase in net worth. Another tool you might want to try is networthiq. An online site owned by Mint. You create a profit and can track your networth – comparing to others.

  26. Sri on January 15, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    I have a question about how you’re valuing some assets. With stocks & other financial instruments, we value them at current market price, not original purchase price (it helps that current market prices are so easily available). But you value your home at the original purchase price+inflation. Why not try to use a value might better approximates the current market price of the home?

    I understand that getting a true market price for a particular home (short of actually putting in on the market for bids) involves a lot of estimates & guesswork and won’t be reliable as a result, but perhaps a suitable proxy could be used? Like maybe the municipal tax valuation (which is typically below the market value of a well-maintained home)?

    That being said, your approach is more conservative & I suppose could be preferable for this purpose.

  27. cannon_fodder on January 17, 2011 at 9:16 am


    Nice accomplishment…. But that’s nothing new for you. ;-)

    I stopped tracking monthly NW and was surprised when I did a YOY comparison. We were up over 40% in 2010 which was at least double what I would have guessed. The biggest contributor was our Smith Man portfolio. The $300k we started with in late 2008 is now worth more than $800k. And we are mortgage free with all payments now going to pay down the $375k HELOC.

    I think a 20% increase for 2011 would be very satisfactory considering how well we did in 2010 and that in absolute terms it’s harder to increase a growIng NW.

    Good luck in 2011 and I hope to pop in a lot more.

  28. Emily on January 17, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I am wondering when/how you account for inflation in your house price. I am doing my NW for Jan 2011 and I calculated a 2% increase…which brings me up by around 5500….so that now brings me to the positive NW. I want to be conservative as well so I’d appreciate any input. I also decreased the values of the cars…..it can’t be this easy!

  29. FrugalTrader on January 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    @Emily, I think using an inflation number between 2-3% is fair. If you want to be really conservative, you can use your tax assessment amount.

  30. FrugalTrader on January 17, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    @canon, congrats on the big gains in your leveraged portfolio! Perhaps the readers would be interested in hearing about your SM success. Interested?

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