Net Worth Update January 2015 – Smiling Saver (Digging out of Debt)

Here is another Team MDJ Net Worth update. A select group of readers were selected to be part of Team MDJ which was conceived after the million dollar net worth milestone was achieved in June 2014. SmilingSaver was selected as a team member and will post net worth updates on a regular basis. Here is more about him.


  • Name: SmilingSaver
  • Age: 30
  • Net Worth: negative $48,247
  • Day Job: Engineer
  • Family Income: $72,000
  • Goals: Save For Wedding in May $15,000 – Done August 2014. Start 2016 Debt free.
  • Notes: Fiancé still in school (second Degree), graduating May 2015. Wedding is scheduled for May 2015.  Immigrated to Canada 13 years ago (full story here).

Hey Everyone.

I hope everyone had an amazing New Year celebration.

I think I will start with the good news since my last update.

  • Thank you for your responses regarding the food budget, we were able to curb it to around $170 every 1.5 weeks. This does include all the small household items like shaving cream and shampoo.
  • My fiancé just received a scholarship; she IS the smart one in this family. So as you can see from the numbers below, her student loan has decreased a good amount.
  • I was able to do some overtime; so we went to visit the family, buy some decent presents, and put more aside to close the loan when the time comes.

I do have some bad news though – I think my car is starting is on its last legs. Since MDJ readers were so nice in helping me out with my questions I do have one now regarding the vehicles.

I did not have a budget set aside for the car, but now I am thinking of putting around 250$ per month for repairs. So the question is, how do you guys and gals purchase your cars or how much do you set aside for repairs? Buying new is too pricey and financing is not attractive to me. Buying a used car sounds a bit scary without my dad. He can always pick out a diamond in the rough; I however do not possess such a skill. So I am in a tough spot here.

My plan right now is to fix my current vehicle which will result in a $400 repair bill. Overall it needs about $1,000 worth of repairs over a short time. This is just parts and I think I can do the fixing myself (Thank you Youtube). The car is 14 years old with 160k km and is showing its age, so I am getting a bit nervous. Before you ask, I do need a vehicle to get to work.

On to the net worth numbers:

I did some rearranging based on the recommendation from FT. I am putting the saved up money as our Assets and the money owed for the wedding as liability.

Assets: $23,862 (+252%)

  • Cash: $2,000 (+0.00%)
  • Registered/Retirement Investment Accounts (RRSP): $0 (+0.00%)
  • Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA): $9,862 (+32.7%)
  • Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) (set aside for wedding): $12,000.00 (0.00%)

Liabilities: $72,109 (+10.9%)

  • Student Loan (Fiancé) : $60,109 (-7.6%)
  • Wedding Expenses : $12,000 (0.00%)

Total Net Worth: ~LOSS: $48,247 (+13.2%)

Some quick notes and explanations to common questions:

The Cash
We have $2,000 as an emergency fund sitting in Tangerine checking account.

$12,000 In TFSA for Wedding, It is sitting in regular Savings account for interest.

$9,862 in TFSA in Tangerine Balanced Portfolio. The moment fiancés student loan will be called for, all this money will go into lump sum to pay it off. I am thinking off selling Tangerine Balanced Portfolio and putting it into regular TFSA savings to make sure I don’t lose any of it

Here we go, have a great 2015.

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9 years ago

I had a small wedding and it was still one of my best days of my life. Same as so many other smart commenters here, I would seriously reconsider reducing and minimizing your wedding expenses.

9 years ago

I absolutely agree with Dutchess. Why in the world would you spend thousands on a wedding – simply to prove that you can go as deeply in debt as the best of them? That’s like holding your hand over a flame for a minute until everyone yells, ‘WOW Dude!’.
After 39 years of wedded bliss I can honestly say that all get togethers with family and friends over the years means far more to us than seeing everyone dressed to the nines and starting out in debt on our wedding day.
Aside from boosting your ego, the people who benefit most from an elaborate wedding are the wedding suppliers.
Showing the world your credit limit is not required. Having fun on your wedding day is! Send lots of pics. That’s all that matters.

9 years ago

I very much appreciate you posting here, as you’re not the typical high double earner family without kids that already has one paid off house.

As for weddings, look up weddings in India. What one of my colleagues told me about hers is way beyond $12k. And I’m not just talking the actual wedding costs, but also the jewelry to buy the in-laws etc. They just built a house too and she’s on maternity leave right now. That said, your wedding is cheap by comparison, but I wouldn’t personally want to pay even that amount for one. My Philippino colleague had the same problems with visas too and they had a small wedding here and then they went to the Philippines to meet her parents and extended family. Still cost in the range you’re looking at in total IIRC.

We had a Chevy Lumina from 1991 in 2006. This was in the Laurentians, so quite a bit of snow and road salt. Cost a couple thousand. It had more than 200k km on it when we bought it and we drove it to 325k km and sold it to a friend. That’s how we know that it died 3 months after that :) We did have to spend quite some money on repairs in that time though (some new shocks for example) and as I read it, those old Luminas had a really tough build.

Mark Seed (@myownadvisor)
9 years ago

Good on you to pay for your wedding in cash. Smart stuff.

Also, good for you for wanting to get out debt. As soon as the loans are done you can focus on investing for your financial future as a happy couple.

Keep up the great focus.

How do we purchase our cars?

We typically put $5,000 down and buy new, at 0% financing. We have intentions of keeping these cars for at least 10-12 years. Our oldest car is 15-years old now and still works. The “new” one is 3 years old. We plan to keep it for another 10.

The thing with new cars is, for the first 3 years, usually only oil changes are required. In the next 3-6 years, brakes and more oil changes.

With a used car, a bit of a wildcard.

Good luck with your decision.

9 years ago


I see from your earlier posts that you are in Calgary… I am new here too! (6 months)

A car at 160k km is barely worn! There might be some minor issues, some things do get broken or worn from being 14 years old but it is usually nothing major (below 100$ for parts for each thing)

Don’t worry about the age of the car too much! I see plenty of daily driver cars from the 80’s and 90’s in Calgary, they just keep on running here since they don’t rust as fast as in the East. I haven’t seen that many Ford Tempo’s since the year 2000!

I might be able to help out with your car, I do it for fun (it’s not my day job), I can take a look with you :) Feel free to ask the site admin for my email address…

9 years ago

The best way that I found for buying a used car is going to dealer auction (with a dealer ofcourse). It can save a lot of money when u compare the price from market dealer (anywhere from $1500 to $4000 depending upon the choice of car).
I don’t know which city are u from. if you are close to GTA, there are few good dealer auctions facilities to go to.

9 years ago

On cars:

We sock away $150 / month just for repairs on our two vehicles. I also agree with @nobleea that you’re doing well if you only spend $1000/year on repairs.

I bought one vehicle when it was 2 years old and the other when it was 4 (paid cash for both). Now they’re 13 and 10 and we’ve recently started saving $600/month for new cars. I know this is pretty aggressive but going into debt on a depreciating asset is not my idea of smart.

On weddings:

$12k isn’t much for a wedding — just go for it and enjoy the day!

Cool Koshur
9 years ago

You are on right track. I am glad you trimmed your grocery/food budget. As far as wedding is concerned 12K seems reasonable. Since every culture is different. You could request invitees not to bring any big boxes gift & others item which are wasteful. You could ask for cash donations instead. Trick is to ask for it tactfully and not look cheap. e.g on your invite you could use the words like “Your presence at our wedding is gift enough, but if you do wish to make a gesture, a monetary gift will be very much appreciated”

9 years ago

Good luck achieving your goal!

9 years ago

I got married about a month ago and spent 10K getting married in a small Canadian city with a “decent sized” 70 people invitation list. I too was second guessing wedding costs, but in the end I found that getting a decent price on stuff and setting a realistic budget was the best thing you could do. Personally I don’t see why people need to spend 40K+ on a wedding but if you want to spend between 8-15K that’s pretty normal.