Net Worth Update June 2015 – Smiling Saver (Just Married)

Welcome to the Million Dollar Journey August 2014 Net Worth Update – Team MDJ edition. 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 $33,929 (vs. $48,247 last quarter)
  • Day Job: Engineer
  • Family Income: $72,000
  • Goals: Start 2016 Debt free.
  • Notes: Married in May 2015. Wife graduated from school with second degree in May 2015. Immigrated to Canada 13 years ago (full story here).

Hey Everyone.

Not sure how many of the readers were following my updates from the very beginning. But those of you that do know, May was the busiest, most insane, and happiest month of my life.

Since my last update, I changed from being single to now being happily married. Having an amazing wife makes me feel like the luckiest person alive. My smart wife also obtained her second degree last month (May).

The wedding was a point of contention for a lot of readers. Spending close to $12,000 on a wedding when I am eyes deep in debt, is not something that was appreciated on this website. So I will go straight to the point. The overall wedding cost (dress for my wife, my clothing, food, alcohol, venue, invitations, and photographer and many more other things) was close to $12,500. The wedding was paid in cash. Also, since it was a destination wedding the total also includes two tickets to the south. I believe that for the most amazing day of my life, it was worth the cost.

With my wife graduating, her student loan is now starting to accumulate interest, so our TFSA balance has been used to pay down her loan. Now I will only have to worry about the loan balance getting to $0 for the rest of 2015.

One more set of good news, I have been granted a monetary performance award that I also applied towards my wife’s student loan.  As MDJ always says, “bank your raises!”

The bad news: The company where my wife was supposed to start work in June closed down due to the down turn of the economy. This actually makes me really nervous about the plan to start 2016 debt free. I am trying to pick up as much overtime as possible to stay on track, but it does not seem likely by myself. She is starting to look for work all around the world. Hopefully she will find a job in the new field, and all my worries will be for nothing.

On to the net worth numbers:

Another big rearrangement, I am closing all my TFSA accounts as they are no longer required (still couple of dollars left, but no value for update). I will keep all the accounts here, but will delete them for the next update.

Assets: $3,379 (-85.8%)

  • Cash: $3,379 (+69%)
  • Registered/Retirement Investment Accounts (RRSP): $0 (+0.00%)
  • Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA)-Student Loan: $0 (-100.00%)
  • Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA)- Wedding: $0 (-100.00%)

Liabilities: $37,308 (-48.3%)

  • Student Loan (Fiancé) : $37,308 (-37.93%)
  • Wedding Bills Left (Due in May) : $0 (-100.00%)

Total Net Worth: ~LOSS: $33,929 (+42.20%)

Some quick notes and explanations to common questions:

The Cash

We have $2,000 as an emergency fund sitting in Tangerine checking account. Currently there is also a portion of my future rent and monthly payments totaling to $3379


$0 In TFSA for Wedding, Since the wedding has been paid for there is no longer need for this account.

$0 in TFSA in Tangerine Balanced Portfolio. The Lump sum from this account was transferred to my wife student loan.

Student Loan

$37,308 is currently with Canada student loans. The interest is high, but does give tax credit. I might think about transferring it to low interest line of credit at some point.

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FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.
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Alpha Centauri
9 years ago

Smiling Saver, your blog will be interesting to follow. You are starting from essentially nothing financially, but I know you’ll do fine, as you have the right attitude. Just the fact that your on this website, means things should be all right 10 years from now. Keep simple achievable goals (like by next year) and slightly longer term goals (like 5 or 10 years out) and tweak them accordingly. Never stop learning about finance. Financial knowledge is probably the most valuable intangible thing you can do now to improve your future financial picture. Good luck, and I look forward to the updates.

Jess @ Best Credit Cards Canada
9 years ago

Congratulations on your wedding! What an exciting time for you and your wife. I understand that you were using your TFSA specifically to save for your wedding, but I’m curious as to why you shut it down? Are you planning to not contribute to your TFSA moving forward?

Mike S
9 years ago

Sounds like a good plan

4.75% for me would probably also be the point in which I want to close my debt before investing

Other than that I would consider the following:

– Why do you want to start with RSP? at the moment it seems that your marginal tax is 32% (vs. lowest rate of 25% in Alberta). Going forward it is virtually certain that your marginal tax rate is going to be higher, either because your salary will rise, and/or the marginal tax in Alberta will rise. Not to mention that if you move to other province your marginal tax will be higher from day one.

This means that it is not tax efficient at the moment. I.e. you get tax return of 32% now, but you may need to pay more, if you wish to access the money in a few years.

There are reasons to consider using the RSP, like:
– High marginal tax rate, and you may want to finance long period with low income in the future (like unemployment, maternity leave, retirement).
– You want to use HBP, then you need up to 25K for each you and your wife. However buying a house doesn’t sound like a good deal in Alberta at the moment and most certainly will be counterproductive for achieving high net worth …

– Tangerine fund: I would not consider it for 50K, as MER of 1.07% is 535 CAD. it is more than enough to cover the cost of your own portfolio, especially that you don’t need to trade often and there are brokerages that don’t charge on buying ETFs (initially you only re-balance by buying more)
Also there is educational value in having your own ETF portfolio. Even for the simplest couch potato portfolio (VAB, VXC, VCN), there are lots of questions to be considered like long term goals/risk/asset location and many more

The situation in Alberta is unfortunate (and was unexpected), but this happens that is why having some financial cushion is important …
Spending a money on yourself is a good idea, especially for sports/fun activities. I always followed only 1 rule “spend less than you earn” and I did well for myself. So even if you manage to save only a small sum in the end of the month, you are on the right track

9 years ago

Good question about the interest. To be sure I double checked with my wife. The website just states floating without specifying the interest. But there is a daily interest value in Dollars. So by calculating it ends up being 4.75% . So here are the reasons I think I am more content to closing the loan first:
1) Gives my wife and I an achievable easy to understand goal.
2) The interest is a Tax Credit not Tax deduction.
3) Gives me a peace of mind.
I do understand that invest early and invest for long term is a way to go. But I think being debt free is a good first step for my family.
To answer you other comment: My wife did graduate in Oil and Gas field and we do live in Alberta.

I do not have company RRSP matching, so I do not contribute to RRSP at this point.
Regarding where do I go in 2016?? To tell the readers the truth did not actively think about that far ahead, with wedding and my wife’s unstable work condition. But I do have a small plan.
1) Will open Tangerine RRSP Account and will start putting money into the Tangerine Balanced Portfolio as suggested by Canadian Couch Potato.
2) The Target will be to get to 50-60k in the portfolio.
3) Then will start looking into ETFs.
4) We do hope to spend a bit more money on ourselves (get back to the gym and take some fun classes) indulge a bit of our wants and not just needs. But still save a good portion.

Overall :
The problem that I am having is the overwhelming information on the ETF Mutual Funds, Dividends. Stocks, etc etc. I am reading a lot on it, but for me it is like reading a Science fiction, feels a bit too far and unreal. I understand most of the math and the ideas, but there is no ability to try or compare it to anything in my life. I hoping to follow the couch potato method (Tangerine -> TD-ETF -> Self-controlled fund), while re reading the books suggested by FT. Hopefully will give me enough information and backbone to stop being so overwhelmed.

Mike S
9 years ago


Is it just me, or can you see this as well?

It seems to me that most of the new team members shun investments , try to pay down debt (even though interest rates are record low) and will only “invest” in real estate (even though it is really a money sucking liability in most of Canada)

But historically significant net worth is made by investing early and for the long term, not by waiting for some future time in which student/car loan/mortgage will be paid off

Even your own MDJ illustrates that nicely

Mike S
9 years ago

Congratulations on the wedding!

For me, your story is the most interesting, and easiest to relate to from the “Team MDJ”. I’m sure you will do good over time

Not sure what is the % you pay for your loan, but if it is sufficiently low, and tax deductible, I would prioritize TFSA and/or other investments before closing this debt

“The bad news: The company where my wife was supposed to start work in June closed down due to the down turn of the economy”

Do you live in Alberta and work in the O&G sector? Otherwise I’m not sure what is the down turn of the economy?

9 years ago

I recommend to have an emergency fund “access” but not just cash. In other words, instead of letting cash sit there and accumulate 0 interest or at least cover the cost of a premium bank account like the TD All Inclusive Account which has the very least a value of $120/yr since as it gives you a premium credit card fee waiver (if you keep $5,000 in their account it works out to a 2.4% return/yr). Otherwise have quick debt access in a low interest environment for emergencies. IE. HELOC at 3.35%, MBNA 0% CC, or any other credit card that the moment you need the money you have access to emergency funds. Your cash emergency fund I would use to pay off high interest debt such as you student loans. My 2 cents (capital budgeting analyst at a major bank).

Sylvia @Professional Girl
9 years ago

First, Congratulations on the wedding!!!
Second, I just have a quick question, why isn’t your emergency fund of $2,000 included in your assets total dollar amount? Do you leave it out because its not for every day purchases?

9 years ago

Hey Sylvia.

I guess my description was not clear. 2000 emergency fund is part of the $3,379 Cash i am having. As in $2000 Emergency fund and $1379 is portion of my rent and monthly bills.