Financial Independence Early Retirement Personal Finance Savings Wealth Creation

2017 Financial Review: $51,144.77 Spent & Net Worth + 8.65%

You are probably thinking…

During a photo shoot with Baby T2.0. FACEPLANT! Oops!

Hear me out, please! Although this blog has been around for more than 3 years, I only started writing year review last year, so the annual review post idea is still pretty new to me.

Why am I writing a financial review when almost every other personal finance bloggers are doing the same thing?

Because I am a money nerd and I have always enjoyed reading at other bloggers’ annual numbers!

Ok, I am kidding…. or am I?

Since our financial epiphany, Mrs. T and I have always reviewed our numbers each year. We are doing this because these annual reviews give us a good idea where we are on our financial independence journey. My goal for publishing a year review post and share some numbers is to provide readers with the Canadian perspective and at the same time hold ourselves accountable.

 

Overview of Our Budget System

We started using our current budget system in mid-2011. Thanks to the budget system, our net worth has increased quite significantly. Each month we break down our after-tax income into 6 different accounts and allocate a certain percentage for each account.

  • Necessities/Core Expenses (55%)
  • Education (10%)
  • Play (10%)
  • Financial Freedom Account (10%)
  • Long Term Savings for Spending (10%)
  • Give (5%)

The percentages listed above are the default suggested values. Over the years we have adjusted all of these numbers to suit our needs. Our necessities percentage is now significantly lower than 55%.

 

2017 Total Expenses

In 2017 we spent a total of $51,144.77 CAD ($40,915.82 USD based on 1/0.8 exchange rate). This number excludes any business expenses.

As you may recall, Mrs. T and I have a few side hustles; I have a photography business, this blog costs some money to operate, Mrs. T and I have our cookbook business, and Mrs. T has a few other business projects as well.

Here’s an overview of all the numbers since 2012.

 Total Necessities SpendingCore Necessities Spending per MonthTotal Annual SpendingTotal Spending per Month
2012$26,210.52$2,184.21$44,603.76$3,716.98
2013$26,343.00$2,195.25$45,260.88$3,771.74
2014$29,058.96$2,421.58$47,391.96$3,949.33
2015$31,256.88$2,604.74$47,270.16$3,939.18
2016$29,831.40$2,485.95$4,7566.96$3,963.91
2017$33,887.68$2,823.97$51,144.77$4,262.06

Note: These numbers do not include money that went into our FFA and LTSS accounts. The numbers only represent money that we actually spent.

So year… we spent $3,577.81 more in 2017 than 2016. And we are supposed to be frugal. D’oh!

An annual spending of $51,144.77 has been the highest number we ever had since we started tracking. I was a bit choked to see that we spent more than $50,000 in a year.

I guess I shouldn’t call us frugal anymore!

 

Deep Dive into the 2017 Numbers

Here are some thoughts when comparing our 2017 numbers with other years’.

  • We spent $2,823.97 per month or $33,887.68 total in Necessitates. This was $338.02 more per month than 2016.
  • Most of the increase was caused by an increase in grocery spending. In 2016 we spent $662.61 per month on groceries. In 2017 we spent $784.07 per month. That’s an increase of $121.46 per month or $1,457.52 for the entire year. Since both Baby T1.0 and Baby T2.0 started eating more and more food, it makes sense that our grocery bill has increased. But they certainly did not eat $121.46 more per month! We have started purchasing more organic food items in 2017 but we have not spent much time in price comparison. We plan to shop more at Superstore this year as the prices are cheaper, rather than blindly purchase items from Costco.
  • In 2017 we were forced to replace 4 car tires, thanks to an unrepairable leak. We also purchased a greenhouse and had a few unplanned expenses. These somewhat “unplanned” purchases totalled $2,282.51. If we took this amount out of our annual expenses, this meant our annual expenses would drop from $51,144.77 to $48,862.26. If we took out the grocery increase ($1,457.52), we would end up with an annual spending of $47,404.74. This would put us roughly in line with the annual total spending from 2014 to 2016. So we weren’t that “far off” compared to our historical trend. This is, at least, somewhat comforting. (Or maybe I am just making silly excuses to justify our high 2017 spending number).
  • We spent $153.89 per month more on Education compared to 2016 because Baby T1.0’s preschool costs more this year (2 half days in 2016 vs. 1 half day + 2 full days in 2017).
  • Overall we have spent less on Play by $49.36 compared to 2016.
  • We are giving roughly the same amount per month to charities over the last 4 years

 

Net Worth: +8.65% in 2017

Since I no longer blog anonymously, I am not going to reveal the actual net worth number. I will just share our net worth increase in percentages.

In 2017 our net worth increased by 8.65%. The actual dollars amount increase was pretty mind-boggling,  considering we are a single income family. I guess we have to say thanks to the hot stock market and the simmering Vancouver real estate market (it has gone from a sizzling market to a simmer market in 2017).

We are very grateful and happy to see how much our net worth has grown in 2017.

 

Growing Our Net Worth

For the most part, we follow these simple steps when it comes to growing our net worth.

  • We maximize our RRSP contribution room every year.
  • We maximize our TFSA contribution room every year.
  • We maximize kids’ RESP contribution room every year.
  • We try to invest as much money as possible in taxable accounts once we maximize tax-advantaged accounts.
  • We DRIP our dividend income whenever we can.
  • We re-invest 100% of our dividend income.
  • Income from side hustles goes straight to FFA for investing in stocks and other appreciating assets.
  • We try to optimize our expenses… but as you can see, we kinda failed on this front in 2017. Oops.

For 2018 we will continue budgeting, saving, and investing. There’s no need to make things more complicated when simple steps are already working great for us.

 

Some Random Stats of 2017

Now we have gone through some of the serious numbers, here are some random (and possibly fun) stats of 2017.

 

Fitness

At beginning of 2017, I weighed: 76.9 kg (169 lbs)

At end of 2017, I weighed: 79.9 kg (176 lbs)

At 5’11”, I think I can be healthier and have a more muscle toned body. My goal is to hit 72 kg (158 lbs) by the end of 2018. 

In 2017 took a total of 3,423,920 steps

This was with 20 days of stats missing. That’s 9,924 steps per day. Need to step up my game this year!

 

Travel

Number of days spent on the road (including for work & for leisure): 75 days

Countries visited: Denmark, Germany, USA, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan

Amazing view from 60th floor hotel room @marriottintl @marriottrewards

A post shared by Bob Lai (@tawcan) on

Hello motherland aka Taiwan.

A post shared by Bob Lai (@tawcan) on

Nice day in Yokohama.

A post shared by Bob Lai (@tawcan) on

Flying over the Canadian Rockies. #pretty

A post shared by Bob Lai (@tawcan) on

Fish in bags everywhere in Monk Kok Hong Kong.

A post shared by Bob Lai (@tawcan) on

New countries visited: 0

Number of flights missed: 1 (denied boarding in Frankfurt)

 

Blog

Average session duration: 00:06:00. Is this number is high or low?

Number of posts: 81

Number of unfinished posts: 25 + whatever amount I deleted

Top visiting country: Canada (eh? 56.28%)

More Random Stuff

Number of times that I donated blood: 6 times (56 total)

Pair of shoes purchased: 0

Number of hygge had: 15,856

Number of naps Perlemus had since I started typing this post: 3 + meowing for food

 

Financial Independence Progress

In 2017 we received $14,834.38 in dividend income. This accounts for 29.07% of our 2018 expenses or 43.92% of our Necessities. We still have a bit ways to go before our dividend income exceeds our expenses.

Over the holidays I met up with S, who became financial independence at age 32. It was neat to hear that he is planning to travel and live in Thailand later this year. It was also neat that both of us were using the Capital One Aspire Travel credit card. Real estate came up during our conversation and one thing he suggested was to sell our house and move somewhere else with a lower cost of living than Vancouver.

As I mentioned briefly in my podcast appearance with Jessica, we could be FIRE’d if we really want to today. If we were to sell our house, use the proceeds to buy dividend growth stocks, index ETFs, and other assets, and move to a lower cost of living Canadian city (or Southeast Asia), we can be financially independent. But we are happy living in one of the Vancouver suburbs, we are establishing roots within the community, and I am happy with what I do at work. Our plans may change in the near future, but for now, we plan to stay put.

For Mrs. T and I, we know we will become financially independent one day via dividend income and other passive income streams. We aren’t in a hurry to get there. For now, we will enjoy our financial independence journey.

We are grateful that we have been healthy in 2017 and had an excellent year financially. We are very much looking forward to what 2018 has in store for our family.

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43 Comments

  • Reply
    Roadmap2Retire
    January 8, 2018 at 8:17 am

    Looks like a great year all round, Bob. Congrats on wrapping 2017 strongly, and here’s to a great 2018.

    cheers
    R2R

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 8, 2018 at 11:59 pm

      Thanks R2R! Here’s to a great 2018 to you too.

  • Reply
    Jordan
    January 8, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Congrats! Looks like a great year! Pretty awesome that you are seeing so many different parts of the world, while being able to sock away cash for the future as well!

    Groceries are getting damn expensive…I made the switch to Superstore this year as well (though mostly because we recently moved and Superstore was closer…) but it is definitely cheaper than most other grocers.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 9, 2018 at 12:00 am

      Thank you Jordan. We need to utilize Superstore more this year. I have definitely found it being cheaper than many other grocers too.

  • Reply
    Tom @ Dividends Diversify
    January 8, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    Tawcan, I have always felt that planning plus measurement against the plan will generally equate to performance. You have all the elements in place. Great job. Tom

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 9, 2018 at 12:00 am

      Thanks Tom. Having a plan is better than having no plan at all. 🙂

  • Reply
    Accidental FIRE
    January 8, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Great year! I wouldn’t worry about the increase in spending too much, you guys are still spending way way less than the average American or Canadian so just keep it up. “Frugal” is all relative and you’re still frugal!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 9, 2018 at 12:01 am

      Haha, yes frugal is a relative term, so is expensive.

      My comment about us not being frugal is supposed to be somewhat sarcastic. 🙂

  • Reply
    May
    January 8, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    Great year. It’s so amazed what you have achieved being an one income family. We are double income and the reason I continue to work is that I won’t feel financially secure if we have only one income.

    Food price inflated a lot during past few years so there is no surprise of more spending on grocery. And you should expect more spending for the kids once they begin the school and out of school activities. Soccer club might be the cheapest sport you can find, even that cost more than $300 for a season. Music lessons are about one dollar every minute. Swimming class anywhere from $10-$60 depending on which class you choose. I never expected kids are so expensive.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 9, 2018 at 12:03 am

      Somehow we are making one income work. If Mrs. T work full time, we’d have to get the kids to daycare. This may not be beneficial financially since we’d be spending a lot more money each year.

      We have been signing up our kids to private swimming lessons. These lessons are expensive but totally worth it. Both kids are great swimmers for their age.

  • Reply
    Money Hungry
    January 8, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    I wish I was given the opportunity to travel more for work. It would be nice seeing some new sights on my company’s dime.

    Awesome break down of how much you spend on an annual basis. Even though you went up on spend, you’ve still been able to max out your tax advantaged accounts and a little extra. Keep it up!
    -MH

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 9, 2018 at 12:05 am

      Traveling for work has its pros and cons that some people don’t realize though.

  • Reply
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life
    January 8, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    Happy New Year! I don’t know what the average time on site is but I’m guessing 6 minutes isn’t bad.

    Being in the Bay Area has both doubled our income over time, combined, but it’s also increased our expenses quite a bit. It’s hard to say whether we’d come out ahead in the end if we were to be located in a cheaper place. In any case, we don’t want to move again, it costs too much money and energy, so we’re committed to reaching financial independence right here. We’ll have to get really creative if we want it to happen soon! 🙂

    What happened in Frankfurt?

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 9, 2018 at 12:08 am

      We had to make a connection in Frankfurt. The first flight was late so we ran to the gate while each of us carrying a kid. We got to the gate when they were still boarding people. When we got to the gate we were told that we got re-routed to fly to Beijing to go back to Vancouver (WTF?). The plane was still there but we were told we couldn’t board. We ended up staying in Frankfurt an extra night to take the same itinerary back to Vancouver the next day. It wasn’t a great way to start the year.

      I have no idea whether the 6 minutes of average session time is a good thing or bad thing. I’ll take it as a good thing. 🙂

  • Reply
    Liz@ChiefMomOfficer
    January 8, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    Looks like an awesome year-hope you have a great 2018!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 9, 2018 at 12:08 am

      Thank you Liz!

  • Reply
    Mr. Tako
    January 8, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    Hi Bob, just for reference — my average session duration is about 3 minutes. Couple that with the numbers you mentioned during our lunch the other day… and I think you’re doing quite well!

    Great 2017, and a very nice net worth increase for the year! Congrats!

    Good luck in 2018!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 9, 2018 at 12:08 am

      Maybe people are just falling asleep while reading my articles lol. 🙂

      Thank you Mrs. Tako.

  • Reply
    NZ Muse
    January 8, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    Stunning views! Went to Japan in 2015 and adored it. And dang – that’s a lot of donated blood! I’m lucky if I manage it 2x a year, but it always feels great to be able to give

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 9, 2018 at 12:09 am

      My goal is to reach 100 donations one of these days. 🙂

  • Reply
    wealthfromthirty
    January 8, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    Nice to read through your review Tawcan – you seem to have done really well this year again, even though you spent a little more than 2016 I’d imagine your expenses are far lower than the typical 2+2 Vancouverian household, that would be something to be proud of! I think the effort you put in on the veggie garden this year will also be of help with your food bill, now that the greenhouse is up and running, the patch can have a good supply of seedlings!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 9, 2018 at 12:10 am

      I have no idea what the average 2+2 Vancouver household spends. That would be a very interesting number to find out, that’s for sure.

  • Reply
    Mike at Balanced Dividends
    January 8, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    Nice recap, Bob. I’m liking the balanced goals as well beyond just net worth and passive income.

    The health and blog areas are a nice balance to provide you with a form of additional dividends.

    Thanks for sharing. Keep up the great progress!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 9, 2018 at 12:10 am

      Thanks Mike. Definitely need to focus more on fitness and health this year. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sean
    January 8, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    Nice 2017..quick question though, are you sure your net worth only increase 8%? I would assume your net worth would grow that much off savings alone. Not to mention the market itself was up 20%+. We grew our net worth from 480k to 730k over 2017 and only ~80k of that came from savings, the rest was from out condo and our dividend stocks. But 480 to 730k would represent a 52% increase

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 9, 2018 at 12:12 am

      Yes we compared our net worth in Jan 2018 to Jan 2017 so that number is accurate. We had a pretty big jump in 2016 so only 8% increase in 2017 is just fine for me.

  • Reply
    Lazy Man and Money
    January 9, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    I actually love to read annual reports from fellow personal finance bloggers. I may not be able to keep up with everyone on a weekly basis and this gives me the chance to check in and get the big picture.

    It also allows me to compare my numbers with other people’s. While I realize that the numbers will be different for people with different life circumstances, it’s still interesting.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 10, 2018 at 11:16 am

      Ha you’re one of those ppl just like me. I enjoy reading these numbers and compare ous secretly. 🙂

  • Reply
    Mr. Groovy
    January 9, 2018 at 6:59 pm

    A family of four, living in the high-cost city of Vancouver, and you only spent $41K US in 2017? That’s damn impressive. Mrs. Groovy and I live in low-cost North Carolina, have no kids, and we spent $38K in 2017. What’s your secret, my friend?

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 10, 2018 at 11:17 am

      Thanks. I think the secret is the low exchange rate, so in USD our numbers look much better. :p

  • Reply
    Buy, Hold Long
    January 9, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    Nice work keep up the excellent work and I’m sure one day your dividends will cover all your necessities and your desires too. Great report!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 10, 2018 at 11:18 am

      Thank you, Buy, Hold Long.

  • Reply
    GYM
    January 9, 2018 at 9:17 pm

    I love annual reports! It’s like peering into Windows while walking on sidewalks at nighttime (I’m not a creep I swear)!

    Great job, food and groceries is so expensive in general! I usually go to No Frills to buy groceries and City Market- I haven’t been able to go to superstore because I can’t deal with the line ups and their food doesn’t seem as fresh.

    Did your family go with you to all of those countries? #travelgoals

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 10, 2018 at 11:19 am

      Haha love your creepy simile…:p

      Yea we’ll focus on shopping more at Superstore this year. I’ve been impressed how much organic produce they actually carry.

      Unfortunately the family didn’t go with me to all those countries. The trips were purely for work.

  • Reply
    Dividend Diplomats
    January 9, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    Tawcan –

    One helluva year! I hope that your food and unplanned expenses go down this year – no better day/month to start than this one : ) Pumped that you are technically FI if you wanted to, but could understand the roots that are starting to grow. Cheers to a great start to the year, Tawcan, keep it up sir!

    -Lanny

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 10, 2018 at 11:20 am

      Hi Lanny,

      That’s my hope too. But I do realize things happen and at least our cash flow can allow us to handle the unexpected.

  • Reply
    Team CF
    January 9, 2018 at 11:12 pm

    Don’t forget that the CAD lost a lot of value toward the USD, this has increased inflation on various products quite a bit over the last two years. This will explain part of the food increase over the last 2-3 years or so (and likely many other products). Still think you are doing well and looking for quality over quantity. might not be frugal perse, but it’s better for everyone in the long run.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 10, 2018 at 11:21 am

      That’s a very good point. We did notice that some produce items went up in price steadily in the last few years. That’s why we are trying to grow more and more produce ourselves.

  • Reply
    Amy @ LifeZemplified
    January 10, 2018 at 8:00 am

    Congrats on a great year! Love the pictures, I’m glad you included them. Happy 2018!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 10, 2018 at 11:21 am

      Thanks Amy, happy 2018!

  • Reply
    Joe
    January 10, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Good job in 2017. Congrats. You traveled a lot last year. Did it get old since most of it was for work?
    I like the annual report too. It’s cool to see how everyone did. Good luck in 2018.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 10, 2018 at 11:22 am

      Luckily it hasn’t gone old for me yet… but it’s not always fun and games when you travel for work, that’s for sure. 🙂

  • Reply
    dividendgeek
    January 13, 2018 at 8:51 am

    Amazing year. We do maintain a budget, but somehow we fail to learn from it. We generally assign a portion of our income for retirement. So, that amount is always invested. Definitely need to explore if we could save more. Looks like you are not compromising on quality of life. Congrats!

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