Welcome to the Million Dollar Journey July 2012 Net Worth Update.  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, hopefully by the time I’m 35 years old (end of 2014).  If you would like to follow my journey, you can get my updates sent directly to your email or you can sign up for the Money Tips Newsletter..

Last month, the TSX appeared to have formed a small base which has continued in July.  The first half of July investors saw a steep drop, but the last few trading days of the month are showing a  bit of bullish momentum – particularly in energy.  The SP500 has almost completely recovered from the May to June decline and looks destined to retest 2012 highs.   Over the past while, I’ve been doing a little bit of work with portfolio tax allocation, buying US dividend stocks, and foreign ETFs  in my self directed RRSP.  This is while keeping my Canadian exposure in non-registered accounts.

Besides the market gains, there was a little bit of movement in between assets this past month.  We had a large amount of cash just sitting in a savings account, so we decided to move the bulk of it into a non-registered portfolio for now.  I’m still coming up with a plan on what to do with it.  What do you think?  Right now I have:

  • RRSP:  Foreign ETFs and US dividend stocks.
  • TFSA:  Mostly cash, ideally Canadian REITs but they are pricey right now.
  • Leveraged Non-Reg Smith Manouevre Portfolio: Canadian dividend stocks.
  • Non-Registered: ??

On to the numbers:

Assets: $724,000 (+1.34%)

  • Cash: $4,500 (+0.00%)
  • Savings: $20,000 (-77.01%)
  • Registered/Retirement Investment Accounts (RRSP): $126,000(+2.11%)
  • Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA):  $40,000 (+0.25%)
  • Defined Benefit Pension: $39,500 (+1.02%)
  • Non-Registered Investment Accounts: $102,500 (+220.31%)
  • Smith Manoeuvre Investment Account: $91,000 (+3.41%)
  • Principal Residence: $300,500 (+0.00%) (purchase price adjusted for inflation annually)

Liabilities$83,300 (+0.36%)

Total Net Worth: ~$640,700 (+1.47%)

  • Started 2012 with Net Worth: $585,228
  • Year to Date Gain/Loss: +9.48%

In my last update, readers suggested to chart my net worth progress over time.  Below are the net worth values since Dec 2006 with data points taken semi annually.

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 – ie. our credit card bill). 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 has proven 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.  The commuted value of the pensions are not included in the statements as they are difficult to estimate.

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. sash on July 30, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    MDJ, why do you prefer to not consider the market value of your house while calculating your net worth?

  2. The Passive Income Earner on July 30, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    You’ve grown by at least $80K per year. That’s amazing!!! Where is your growth all coming from? It’s very regular over the past 5 years so I assume it’s your saving rate (plus paying down your mortgage).

    I achieve almost $100K growth annually as well but it includes adjusting my property value to the average of the last 3 years.

  3. TonyC on July 30, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Hey MDJ,

    I noticed you have been stacking up cash in Savings over the past months and this month it seemed you relocated quite a bit to a non-registered account. Looks like you being bullish into the market now? :P

    Also just curious, are you still working? I noticed even in a relatively light bearish month your net worth still grows regardlessly.

  4. Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey on July 31, 2012 at 5:15 am

    I salute you for the consistent increase in your assets. Looking at this kind of month-end reports inspire us to work harder in increasing our assets and reducing our liabilities.

  5. FrugalTrader on July 31, 2012 at 10:39 am

    @sash, it comes down to being conservative.

    @passive income, yes over the years it has been a number of things. Real estate, portfolios, and savings. More recently, it has been savings as cash flow has been higher.

    @Tony, yep, I still work full time and moonlight as an entrepreneur!

  6. Andrew on July 31, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    MDJ, you have been a model to help me follow a similar path to creating a networth of a million. I am curious to how you keep track of your investment + savings separate. Do you have an easy way of keeping track of what you save and what you invested? Often times you have your networth increase, but how much of that is due to your savings versus your investment returns. It would be nice if you would be willing to include how much you save each month and how much your investments returned. Based on your previous posts, you seem to be saving roughly ~4k each month. Would that be right? I only ask as a means to measure my own performance.

    I am trying to keep track of my networth and how much I save versus how much I invest but I do find it gets messy especially when you start selling and buying. Do you have any tools or programs or suggestions?


    • FrugalTrader on July 31, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      @Andrew, thank you for the kind feedback. Every month, I indicate the”savings” accounts, which is cash savings. We can typically save $2.5-$4k a month, sometimes more if we dividend out from the company. The RRSP/TFSA, may have cash in them, but I consider them investment accounts.

  7. My Own Advisor on July 31, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Killer work, you continue to be an inspiration!

    I think our NW is approaching $500 K, but the good thing is, our house value is about 60% of that.

    Keep up the great work, that chart says it all :)


  8. Charlotte@EverythingFinance on July 31, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Great to see you moving upward every year. Keep up the good work and good luck reaching your goal in 2 years.

  9. Sarlock on August 1, 2012 at 12:05 am

    Given that you’ve paid off your mortgage and have a nice sizeable chunk of excess cash for emergencies, why don’t you maximize your HELOC and increase the size of your CDN dividend holdings? Now seems to be a pretty good time to buy, though no one can predict the future. Given the taxation benefits, it seems silly to not fully maximize the potential of this opportunity. If you’re looking at it as a 10-20+ year investment, short-term market swings don’t matter – what matters is the long-term dividend returns and taxation savings.
    As for the remainder of your funds in non-registered portfolios, you’re kind of stuck paying full tax on those, in which case capital gains would be the way to go. Investing in some good CDN growth companies that don’t pay out any dividends may be a sound strategy.

  10. Vision Investment Properties on August 1, 2012 at 2:16 am

    So very impressive and incredibly well structured. Just out of curiosity…do you ever plan to add more real estate investment to your portfolio – outside your personal mortgage and not a REIT, but an actual income property investment where you can benefit from positive cash flow? What are your thoughts on that approach?

  11. Emilio on August 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Hey FT,

    Congrats on your success. I have a similar uptrend in my networth as well.

    However, I wonder if you do have similar concerns to mine. Do you ever worry that all this money is made-up electronic currency and it can be devalued in the blink of an eye?

    Do you also have a contigency plan for that event?
    Are you invested in gold coins, firearms, ammunition and other hard assets as well?
    Have you invested in learning survival and basic farming skils?

    Am I crazy if I answer yes to all my questions?

  12. Rg on August 2, 2012 at 1:19 am

    Hi FT,

    I have the same question as Andrew asked a few posts ago. How much of your net worth gain was from return on investments? It would be really nice to see how much returns you get each month included in your monthly updates. I’m just wondering because I’m just starting to invest my money and it would a nice measurement of my own performance.

  13. SST on August 2, 2012 at 4:58 am

    Devil’s Advocate….why do you list your house in your assets?

    I know house-as-asset is one of those long debated issues, but almost every “wealth report” out there does NOT account principle residence into the net worth of rich folk.

    Other than that:
    i) good job on a ‘flat’ ’08!
    ii) ever think about investing in private equity (the rich do — a lot — and you might be one of them soon…)?

  14. FrugalTrader on August 2, 2012 at 10:11 am

    @SST, I’m not quite among the rich yet! Yes, I’ve heard the argument, but I still consider my house to be an asset.

  15. FrugalTrader on August 2, 2012 at 10:18 am

    @Rg, generally speaking, any gains or losses within the RRSP/TFSA indicated in the net worth statements are from organic gains/losses from the account. For example, for my “registered accounts”, I gained 2.11% this past month. My leveraged dividend portfolio gained 3.41%.

  16. Steve Zussino - Canadian Coupons on August 2, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Looking at the chart, what has changed much the last 4 years? Has the blog with the increase in savings rate been that much of a surplus.

    I understand you no longer pay a mortgage so that should help also.

  17. Tom on August 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Congrats on your increasing networth. can you provide more details on what you have on your RRSP?

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