Objectives

Mid-2019 Spending & Investments Review

With June already a full month behind us, it’s the perfect time for a mid-year review of the Modest Millionaires family progress in terms of spending and investments for 2019.

Overview of our objectives for 2019 spending

For 2019, in our 2018 spending & investment review we set a target level of annual spending of $48,000. An additional expense of about $8,000 related to the major renovation project from last year will also need to be added on top of this.

We planned on focusing our efforts this year on:

  • Food, by continuing to track our grocery expenses based on our mission to reduce our grocery spending with a goal is to spend $150 per week in groceries and less than $215 per week for lunches/ fast-food/ restaurant.
  • Alcohol expenses, by continuing to ban alcohol during weekdays (except really special occasions). 
  • Holiday/Special events expenses, by watching my spending when celebrating holidays or special events with our kids (Christmas, Easter, their birthdays, etc.) as I deal with some money anxiety linked to this which can trigger extra-spending.

Overview of our spending for the first half of 2019

To simplify comparing with 2018 and our spending target, I chose to project out what this level of spending would look like if we maintain the same average over the next 6 months. I’ve included both a projection on a yearly and monthly basis. 

Category
Yearly 2018Projected Yearly 2019Projected Monthly 2019
Recurring fixed expenses
$11,228$11,258$938

Electricity$2,294$2,333$194

Home insurance$1,221$1,477$123

Car insurance$636$724$60

Phone/Internet/Netflix$1,656$2,164$180

Municipal and school taxes$2,803$2,762$230

Public Transport$1,921$1,095$91

Car registration/licences$698$702$59
Health
$2,407$2,386$199

Pharmacy$1,430$1,303$109

Health/Fitness$977$1,083$90
Food
$20,772$18,999$1,583

Grocery$11,810$10,244$854

Restaurant/Fastfood$2,596$2,528$211

Lunches$1,018$1,037$86

Wine/Beer$5,348$5,189$432
Entertainment
$3,159$4,759$397

Cinema$75$145$12

Shopping (clothing/Books)$1,199$2,596$216

Travel$95$369$31

Sport$1,402$1,446$120

Other entertainment$388$203$17
Kids
$6,033$5,742$478

Baby supplies$14$0$0

Kids activities/Toys/Clothing$1,756$1,452$121

Daycare$4,263$4,290$358
Variable expenses
$11,520$7,457$621

Gifts/Donations$2,230$2,046$170

Gas$496$1,067$89

Home Improvement$1,159$199$17

Home supplies/services$5,861$1,732$144

Car repair/Parking$571$1,215$101

Financial costs$182$0$0

Pet food$722$412$34

Pet health$134$690$57

Other$165$96$8





TOTAL
$55,119$50,601$4,217

How are we doing with our 2019 spending objectives?

Overall our current projections for 2019 show that we’d be just $2,601 over our $48,000 target for this year. That really isn’t so bad, especially considering that we have another 5 months to continue making efforts to lower our spending.

Food wise, we’re on target to spend $1,614 less in 2019 on grocery & eating out compared to 2018. We’ve been continuing to track our grocery expenses based on our mission to reduce our grocery spending which is helping and I’ve been sticking consistently with planning weekly menus, most of the time. 

However, we might fall short of our target to spend $150 per week in groceries as we are currently at a $180 average for our weekly grocery spending. On the bright side, summer and fall are the best seasons for some yummy and lower priced local produce, so I’m hoping this will help continue lowering our average to bring it closer to our target. As for our target of less than $215 per month for lunches/ fast-food/ restaurant, we’ve been spending a bit more with a projected $297 per month therefore we must keep up efforts in this area as well.

Our wine and beer expenses have dropped a tiny bit compared to 2018 but I’m pretty confident we can improve this further over the next 6 months. 

As for our holidays & special events spending, although it’s a little hard to clearly see the differences as those expenses are split up between the gifts/donations, shopping, kids activities/toys and food categories, I believe we have improved somewhat in approaching those events. 

While we still have one kid’s birthday to go in the Fall, as well as the mother of holiday in our family which is Christmas, we plan to keep up the efforts of not spending too much on things that don’t bring extra value during those days. Mr. Mod is also helping more with the food planning for those events as this is one category where I end up buying too much while he has better skills at knowing how much our loved ones will eat. Yay for teamwork!

All of this being said, we may still end the year with spending a bit over our $48,000 target for this year, especially considering that I just bought my plane ticket to FinCon (yay!) so this will add on a good amount in our travel category. We shall see what the next 6 months brings, but I’m still really happy with the improvements over 2018 spending!

Other notable changes:

I was hoping to see a reduction in our recurring fixed expenses as I no longer need a bus pass for commuting thanks to my new teleworking arrangement, but this $826 of saving was quickly eaten up by an increase in our insurance as well as in or telecommunications services. We did decide to upgrade our internet to fiber so that was somewhat related to my new working arrangement but the insurance increase and other fees in the telecommunications category were unrelated to it. 

A reduction in our variable expenses was expected as we had a lot of home supplies purchases last year, however we had not expected some health issues with our almost 9 year old dog. That’s one of the hard parts to predict when being a pet owner, and I think I will be raising our projections over the next few years to prepare accordingly as she gets older and may face more health problems. 

Finally, a big increase in the shopping category was largely due to me finally buying some new clothes after doing a big clean up of my closet. The fun part of this shopping spree is that it’s all comfortable clothes, since I don’t really need any uncomfortable office clothing thanks to remote work. 

I chose good quality clothing that should last me quite a while and only a few strategic pieces I truly needed as I now keep a detailed inventory of all my clothing items. My plan is to only renew the pieces once they are damaged in the future, while maintaining this amount of items as too many clothes is simply overwhelming and unnecessary. 

Value of Investments in July 2019 :

According to our 2025 plan, in July 2019 we should have a total investment of over $653 620 (does not include the value of our home), however, that amount accounted for our plan to only pay off our mortgage in 2021 or later but, in February 2017, we decided to take out a portion of our investment to pay off our entire mortgage.  

Here is a brief history of the value or our investment and where we stand in comparison to our 2025 plan: 

Month/YearObjective 2025 PlanTotal Value InvestedNote
January 2015240 000$262 996$
January 2016303 969$284 868$
January 2017446 149$427 223$We decide to pay
off our mortgage
at that moment by
withdrawing about
$100 000 from
our TFSAs
July 2017485 500$353 131$With a house fully
paid as well 🙂
January 2018525 055$447 220$
January 2019609 678$492 850$
July 2019653 620$643 362$

After a decline in the markets at the end of 2018 which resulted in our lower January 2019, they have been performing pretty amazingly for us this year with our total investments reaching $643 362 in early July. This is pretty significant as we are close to catching up to the level at which our investments would be, according to our projections, if we had only waited to pay off our mortgage in 2021 instead of doing so in 2017!

Speaking of how the markets have been behaving… 

While I normally don’t follow much of what is going on in terms of investment news, Finimize reached out to suggest I try out their free simple investing newsletter and if I liked it, to join in a partnership with them to promote it to my readers.  

I’m happy to say that after almost a month of receiving it, I still open it on a daily basis to read the 3-minute breakdown of what is going on in investment news. It’s clear, simple and keeps it practical with their simple “What’s going on? What does this mean? & Why should I care?” sections which truly appeal to me. 

As mentioned in my transparency page, if I believe in some products that I have used could benefit my readers I may accept to advertise them and this happens to be one of those specific cases, so I am happy to partner up with Finimize. If you subscribe, I will receive a small monetary compensation, but the subscription remains free for you, therefore this consists of a win-win-win in my mind :). 

Looking forward to seeing how the rest of 2019 shapes up for our spending and investments! 

How’s your spending looking now that 6 months have already passed by for 2019? 

14 thoughts on “Mid-2019 Spending & Investments Review

  1. Great update. I love how detailed you got in all of your expenses. Do you have a certain savings rate you are trying to achieve this year?

    I also feel your anxiety around spending and holidays. I’m already trying to figure out how to deal with Christmas coming up because my family goes crazy with the spending but that is against the values we are trying to instil with our little one.

    1. Thank you Maria! Although we do check our savings rates after the fact, we go more about what we think we normally spend + upcoming expenses before deciding what we send to our investment accounts. So it’s kind of realistically budgeting then taking the excess money out of our accounts so we have to do it 😅. We readjust depending on big spending or other too!

      I totally get the Christmas anxiety! I feel like I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to that, getting over excited and worrying about disappointed the kids. It will take me more effort this year to stick to a smaller budget but since we are planning a big trip in winter, that might help me justify to myself that it’s more worth it to allocate the money to that trip. I have no tips on family though! We have just recently managed to convince both sides of the family to do one gift exchange for the adults so the grand-parents go a bit crazy with the kids. Let me know if any particular approach has some success in that area for you!

  2. You guys are having a great 2019! I think the fact that you could just decide to cut alcohol completely and basically meet your year end spending goals means you’re doing quite alright. =)

    But I completely understand the anxiety and uncertainty that surrounds the Christmas and holiday season. Similar to Maria above, my parents go nuts over Christmas and birthdays. They shower everyone, especially the kids, with gifts galore, which makes us look pretty bad when we try to give the kids small, meaningful gifts. It’s hard to try to teach a teenager the importance of frugality when Grandma gives them a $100 gift card to go buy a new video game.

    My goal this year is to have these talks with the parents way ahead of time. Actually, I’ve already started. I’m hoping that if we have around one conversation a month as a whole family about the meaning of frugality and minimalism (especially surrounding gift giving), when Christmas rolls around, everyone will be on board with spending a little less and loving each other a little more!

    Elise

    1. I am SO interested to learn how these talks go and if they bring good results! I recently realized it is so important to have frequent talks with extended family about how we want to teach our kids about money and this whole gift giving idea falls directly into that. If I’m trying to teach my kids delayed gratification to buy something they really want, it sure goes against that if grandma comes in and just gives the thing to them!
      I would love if you keep me posted on the results of those talks :).
      Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Thanks Tawcan! Our almost 9 year old dog is having lots of health problem this year unfortunately :(. She’s actually always had some genetic issues so we kind of expected it to get worst as time goes by but I definitely need to readjust the next years budget to account for it! She had both a UTI & eye infection that were resisting treatment these last couple of months, luckily we seem to be over those. However, a small lump on her paw was on a wait & watch approach but seems it kept growing and is painful for her so I have an appointment soon to recheck this. Seems like we are not quite done with the high expenses in that category this year!

  3. Well done! I love the detailed posts! I have a question. Do you invest in ETF’s like Vanguard here in Canada, and if so, what platform do you use? All of my investments are in a brokerage account with high fees and I want to diversify into a Vanguard account self directed. If you can please recommend, that would be appreciated!

    1. Thanks Dale!
      Yes we do invest in Vanguard ETFs :). Right now we have the majority in VUN, but some of our accounts have some funds in VAB, VBU, VXC, VGG, VEE.
      We’re using both Questrade and Virtual Brokers. We had great promos that have been grandfathered so you may want to keep a lookout for those.
      I hope this helps!
      Good luck!

  4. I’m always excited to find a Canadian FIRE blog especially to try and compare expenses as I find many American FIRE bloggers have more options and therefore cheaper fixed expense fees etc. wondering about a couple of things…do you not have to pay for natural gas where you are in Quebec? I suppose you could be heating your house with electricity..if that’s the case – wow i’m jealous of your energy bill as we pay several thousand more dollars a year for our electricity/water/natural gas. second – where are your income taxes on the list? As you plan for $55,000 income post retirement – will you have to pay income tax on part of it still? The income tax portion is missing from my own FIRE number calculations right now because I haven’t determined exactly how much will come from TFSA vs RRSP etc. Happy to have found your blog – keep writing!

    1. Thank you for these wonderful questions! I love it :)!

      Although some people heat with natural gas here, we have an electric furnace so no natural gas bill for us! We do not have a water bill though. We are indeed lucky with our cost of electricity here :), it’s also partly that low thanks to some insulation work we did on the house these last few years.

      I actually don’t include our income taxes as I feel it goes too into the nitty-gritty details and varies so much depending on circumstances (for example, they would include an additional contribution for daycare for use which depends on #of children and their ages).

      As for our retirement plan, we are actually planning for $50,000 to $60,000 in spending. So while our investment amount is based on 25x spending, we will have to consider how the income tax on our withdrawal impact this. It’s therefore on my list to make further projections based on that as we get closer to our desired number but that being said I’ve been procrastinating a bit on this! You see, I’m not that worried about this detail as I know I will continue to do some projects that can earn income even after we quit our jobs. I could therefore adjust my efforts in that area depending on what’s happening in the market or potential income taxes, in order to make sure that our withdrawals remain under 3-4%. Nonetheless, it would be more strategic that I look into this sooner than later and could probably save us from some potential logistical issues later on!

      I’ll definitely be researching this further in the next couple of years and on that subject, I did save this awesome link that may be useful to you : https://www.millennial-revolution.com/invest/workshop-invest/making-investments-tax-free/?fbclid=IwAR2-kIo81ROf3NKQj32wFFSlY55Z40zZjv201ukb7mEbOn0kNAk805XSGoI .

      Thank you so much for stopping by and I’d love it if you come back and share any info/links you find on the subject at they would be greatly helpful as I learn a bit more about those types of strategies going forward :).

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