Welcome to the Million Dollar Journey January 2011 Net Worth Update – The first update of the year. 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 my updates sent directly to your email.

In 2010, we finally managed to break the $500,000 net worth barrier which means we are just over the half way mark to the net worth goal of $1M.  Up to this point, net worth growth was heavily dependent on savings growth.  Going forward though, with all of our bad debt paid off, portfolio increases (or decreases) are soon going to lead the way. On the same note, as mentioned in my financial goals for this year, I’m hoping to simplify our portfolios by indexing a larger portion.  Specifically, my wife’s RRSP account.

Another one of our goals was to max out all of our registered accounts.  We’ve thus far deposited $5k into our TFSA with the remaining $5k deposited in the next month or so.

Real Estate returns in my city has been very strong over the past few years.  However, to be conservative and to keep things simple, instead of adjusting our home value up and down every month, we adjust it annually to align with historical inflation (3.0%).

On to the numbers:

Assets: $ 579,748.00 (+3.31%)

  • Cash: $4,500 (+0.00%)
  • Savings: $46,500 (+3.33%)
  • Registered/Retirement Investment Accounts (RRSP): $105,500(+2.43%)
  • Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA):  $26,300 (+25.54%)
  • Defined Benefit Pension: $32,800 (+1.23%)
  • Non-Registered Investment Accounts: $12,700 (-0.78%)
  • Smith Manoeuvre Investment Account: $59,700 (+0.67%)
  • Principal Residence: $291,748 (+3.00%) (purchase price adjusted for inflation)

Liabilities$55,700 (0.54%)

Total Net Worth: ~$524,048 (+3.61%)

  • Started 2011 with Net Worth: $505,800
  • Year to Date Gain/Loss: +3.61%

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.

Savings

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.

Pension

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.

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Way to go! Its great to see the assets start to snowball without the drag of the debts!!

Great work so far, your house is almost down to 50% of your total net worth. I am thinking that you should mobilize your savings rather than have it earn high-tax interest in a savings account. If a portion of your investment is liquid and easily accessible, you can still treat it as an emergency fund.

FT, is there any reason not to include the employer matching pension contributions? Once you’re vested into the pension isn’t that money yours?

Congrats on the great work! ;-)

Impressive and inspirational stuff as always.

I am always struck by how much you keep in savings. I think it’s great and frankly, am quite envious how much you’re able to save; on the other hand, why not rely a bit more on an no-touch unsecured LOC for emergencies? That way you could trim down the savings quite a bit and allocate the rest of your capital in investments. Is it just a matter of having too much cash and too few attractive investment options?

Thanks! This is so inspiring.

Holy crap, $524,000 now. lol Incredible.

How are we every going to catch you?

We’ll be doing our update tomorrow, based on today’s closing prices.

You are quite the inspiration! Truly impressed with how much you are able to save each month. Keep up the great work and you just might achieve your goal!

FT, your NW numbers are amazing and an inspiration. I certainly am not trying to trivialize your success with the following observation:

I noticed that you had approx $6750 in cash after fixed and variable expenses in Jan 2010. Of that approx 1.5K went to savings and the rest went to TFSA. I just want to point out that $6750 in cash after fixed and variable expenses is extremely difficult for a single person who is a non-CEO, and certainly difficult enough for a couple to achieve. Of course the large amount of cash after expenses is due to your well-publicized frugal ways, but part of it has to be due to high monthly income.

Again, by pointing out the role high income plays in your amazing NW numbers I am not trying to denigrate your success or achievements.

Great inspiration as always.
Able to increase you NW another $20k in just 1 month, imagine 1 year!
I would agree that hasving your residence paid off is a huge factor, no more debt working against you.

FT: On your goal to 1mil, how have you been allocating the spending on vacations? Friends are always pressuring me to go on trips with them (because they want to go, and because they know I can afford it). Me telling them I ‘can’t afford to travel a lot’ has no relevance to them.

How do you reward yourself and your family, while still remaining highly disciplined? I am good at being frugal and saving every penny, while still rewarding myself. But than the factor of travel and vacaton comes into play, and I always have trouble deciding.

A 1 or 2 week trip, or possibly a month, costs from around $1500-$3000. Than take into account the loss of income while not working, and its a huge setback in my financial plan.

@Dr.Phil
Of course having a high income has a positive effect for generating more NW. BUT you have to realize, that the majority of people that make above $100k, hardly save any. They live so ‘comfortably’ that they feel no need to have to save for their future. And they carry so much debt and bad habits that they only live 1 day at a time. Sure they don’t live paycheck to paycheck like many canadians, but if they didnt work for a month, they would start to have some troubles I believe.

My point is this: FT is proving that he isn’t like the masses, and is using what he worked hard to acheive, in his favor. Whichever situation you are in, take as much advantage of it as you can. Make money work for you as much as you can, results in less work for you in the long run.

It’s amazing that he can generate 20k a month increase, but that helps a lot that he added inflation of his residence as well his portfolio is working hard for him.

Good luck to everyone in 2011~

I could guess that he does well from the income/advertising that his blog brings. Plus he’s frugal, an Engineer and his wife has a DB pension.

Add all those up with good money management and you get a story like in the book, the millionaire next door.

GOod job for you, we love following your updates.

I would question your methodology in valuing your property. Tacking on 3% for inflation seems rather detached from how real estate is actually valued.

I think the appropriate approach would be to take comparables from your neighbourhood that have sold, come to an average value per square foot on the best comparables and multiplying by the square footage of your home.

A bit more work but much more reflective of reality. If you need help or would be interested in getting comparables, shoot me an e-mail.

Big fan of your blog and have followed loosely for a couple years.

It’s great to see someone reaching the goals of their financial plan. Keep up the good work.

Frugal Trader,

You continue to impress and like another commenter mentioned, I think it’s AWESOME your NW is growing so much AND your principle residence isn’t the bulk of it. This is a great sign.

I personally think too many folks depend on their house as the key investment in their financial plan. While true, you hope it’s an investment and certainly an asset, at the end of the day, everyone needs a place to live and it shouldn’t be overly important. Pensions, RRSPs, TFSAs and Non-Registered stocks should form the bulk of a well-balanced financial plan. This you know and have done a great job.

Regarding the NW, I just wish I could catch up to you :)

Alas, I’ll keep working on it….

Cheers,
My Own Advisor

What do you do to track Account payables and receivables such as Credit Cards and People owing you large sums of money at the end of the month?

When calculating the value of Real Estate holdings; are you also considering the carrying costs such as municipal taxes and maintenance?

Hi,

Out of curiosity, I compared your Net Worth from Jan 2010 and Jan 2011. It appears that you added to total of $ 67500 into savings, RRSP and TFSA in last 1 year. Also you mentioned about paying off mortage of $ 23700 this year. If you make $ 105 k per year how can you get a total of $ 91200 ( 67500+23700 ) to add to these accounts?

Thanks

Hi FT,

Well that is really great. I appreciate what you are doing for community in terms of giving direction to those who want to save their money to secure their future. Your website is excellent source of information. I myself has been doing a lot of saving and investments, and this website has reinforced it and gave me more ways to save extra money.

Keep it up and hope you reach your goal sooner than you think.

Nicely done, FT. You don’t have the luxury of ignoring your NW’s gyration like I do… I stopped updating it after May of last year when things started going sour. Then I decided to start again this year and now I not only show a Month over Month but a Year over Year. Of course this will all change when I don’t like what I see ;-)

February was up 6.1% MOM and 46.25% YOY primarily from investments doing well. That could change – last March my NW went down 1.19%.

Regarding house valuations, I just put in 2% per year (arbitrary but conservative) by simply adding 1/4 of that every 3 months to my house value. I could look at the property tax bill and see what they say but not only are they low in my city, they are at least a couple of years behind, too.

@Echo – FT has a defined benefit pension plan, not a defined contribution pension plan. As such, there aren’t any contributions that his employer makes specifically to his account. His benefit is defined at retirement, irregardless of how much he or his employer contribute. (However, if he were to terminate before retirement, he would be entitled to a refund of his contributions if they were more than 50% of the value of his pension)

If you have a defined contribution pension plan, then yes, I would include employer matching contributions as part of net worth.

@canucktuary
So are the employer contributions in a DBP just being allocated to the fund itself? My pay stubs show my contributions as well as the employer matching contributions. How do you calculate that value for the purposes of a net worth statement? A DBP is typically a richer plan upon retirement, but it doesn’t seem to make much sense to short change it in your calculations during your working years.

Hi Frugal Trader

I am new to MDJ and started following the website since last 2 weeks. I am really impressed with the work. It is so simple to understand but covers every detail for almost anything like investement, taxes, brokerage, mortgage.

Also, I like to thank the contributors and other authors for supporting Mr. FT’s such a impressive intiative. You have inspired me a lot and I am going to start planning for my MDJ.