Already three months in 2017! Time definitely flies by way too fast. I still remember when my father told me when I was young (this sentence definitely makes me feel old haha) that it goes even faster the older you get, and I must admit that I kind of understand it now! Anyway, with March already behind us 1/4 of the year has passed and we’re definitely on our way to crushing our goals, with a 32% Savings Rate (33% on average for the year) and a $1.7k Net Worth increase since last month. Still 9 months to go, so a lot can happen, but for the first time in a looong period I’m starting to get confident regarding my financial goals, which definitely feels great.
Even if I’ve already filed our taxes (and I’ve already planned how to spend it), we did not get our tax refunds yet, so not so much happened this month but I was still able to make two nice lump-sum contributions to my savings and my retirement accounts. I’m still reevaluating our savings opportunities for the next few months as we’ll be back soon to a single income (in May).
If you have already read the following introduction section at least once, feel free to skip down to the juicy new content starting here: Financial Report March 2017.
Once a month I’m publishing a detailed report regarding my financial stats, in which I try to reflect over the past month – what went well or what didn’t go as planned. This also allows me to stay motivated towards the dream of being financially independent someday. My goal with these monthly reports is also transparency and I’d like my readers to emulate my successes and avoid my failures.
It feels kind of strange to publish all my financial details here, but it’s also a very motivating feeling. We have all pretty much different backgrounds regarding our personal finances, but hopefully my detailed reports will motivate you to keep on pushing harder. Whether it is to start a blog, or at the very least to start tracking your Net Worth, you can’t go wrong here as there are no bad choices! You can check out my favorite resources if you don’t know where to begin with.
My go-to tool to track all the data to generate these reports are extracted from my Mint account. I find it really easy to budget / analyze and visualize the trends, and I’m also a big fan of their iOS App! A nice feature is that it can be integrated very easily with Wealthsimple (where I have my RRSP account), giving me a complete overall view of my finances. Since early January, Wealthsimple is now also available to people living in the US! Feel free to read my complete Wealthsimple review here, if you want to start investing easily.
All stats on this report are combined for Mrs. FFG and I, and are in Canadian dollars, as we’re currently living in Canada. Here is a list of the sub parts of my report (you can click on each link to reach directly one specific part):
Table of Contents
If you’re interested, all the reports I have written since I started this website are listed on my financial stats page!
So here it is, my complete financial report of March 2017. I hope you’ll find it inspiring, and perhaps this will motivate you to start your own website.
March 2017 Income
March was the first of the last three months where we’ll be having a dual income because Mrs. FFG is finishing her PhD in a couple of weeks and then her grants will stop soon after this (which should be around May). After this, we will be back to a single income for the remaining of the year, at least until she finds a job! Nothing special happened income-wise this month except our usual bi-weekly paycheck. It’s a bit lower than what we’re used to because in the past I was counting my work-related expenses & income (such as hotels) but I’m not counting it anymore to have a better view of our *real* finances.
Total Gross Income March 2017: $6,080
- Previous Month: $8,862
- Difference: -$2,782
March 2017 Expenses
Expenses were below our estimated average of $4,000 per month. This is once again a win for this month! Unfortunately, we failed (once again) at our $800 / month for our Food & Dining budget. The next couple of months should see quite an increase on our entertainment category, because we have a lot of birthday parties to attend in the next few weeks. All-in-all this was still a good month but I’m pretty sure we could drop our expenses much lower!
- Home: $1,175
- Bills & Utilities: $351
- Auto & Transport: $426
- Health & Fitness: $71
- Food & Dining: $928
- Travel: $81
- Shopping & Entertainment: $371
Total Expenses March 2017: $3,403
- Previous Month: $4,138
- Difference: -$735
March 2017 Investments & Savings
For the past few months, we’ve been investing and saving in three different ways which are now totally on auto-pilot:
- My employer Simplified Pension Plan (SIPP), which offers a 100% match of my contributions, up to 2% of my salary (pre-tax), in which I contribute 2% (pre-tax) per paycheck.
- My Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) account with Wealthsimple, in which I contribute $100 per paycheck (post-tax).
- Our emergency fund in an High Interest Savings Account (HISA) with Tangerine in which I contribute $100 per paycheck (post-tax). I’ve switched a couple month ago to Tangerine, mainly for the 2.40% interest rate.
No pay raise this month (and no bonus either!) but I still decided to make another lump-sum contribution to both my RRSP and my emergency funds accounts ($500 in both). This, combined with our recurring contributions, will help us to reach our savings rate target (as listed on my Goals For 2017) of 20% on average this year!
Since early February, I’ve also opened up an account with Mylo. It’s still in beta and should be available by the end of April for everyone living in Canada! For those wondering it’s the Canadian equivalent of Acorns. Basically, it’s an app which automatically rounds up everyday purchases and invests the spare change.
As this is a goal-based savings app (when compared to Acorns), you have to define some goals when setting it up. I’ve decided to use it for my vacation fund. I’ve set an *easy* goal of $1,000 for our spend money this summer while on our 5-week vacation trip and we’ll see how it goes from there. So far Mylo has invested $58 from rounding up my usual transactions, which I think is awesome as I didn’t even notice it! I’ve already finished writing a detailed post on Mylo which will go live as as soon as Mylo will be available for everyone. In the meantime if you live in Canada you should definitely check out this new app.
- SIPP Account (employer & employee): +$182
- RRSP Account (Wealthsimple): +$700
- Emergency Fund (Tangerine): +$700
- Vacation Fund (Mylo): +$58
Total Investments & Savings March 2017: +$1,640
- Previous Month: +$2,726
- Difference: -$1,086
March 2017 Net Worth
As we do not have any liabilities anymore since I paid off our $27,000 student loan debt, we’re slowly working on improving our assets now! No major changes happened this month (except my lump-sum contributions of $500 to both my RRSP and Emergency Fund accounts). Yet, as these accounts are starting to reach interesting amounts, I’m finally seeing some huge progress even without counting my own contributions, which feels great (especially when you consider my 13.5% time-weighted return with Wealthsimple!). Next month should also see a huge boost with our upcoming tax refunds, and as I already plan to spend it in a smart way.
- SIPP Account (employer & employee): $10,700
- RRSP Account (Wealthsimple): $3,865
- Emergency Fund (Tangerine): $3,751
- Vacation Fund (Mylo): $58
Net Worth March 2017: $18,374
- Previous Month: $16,612
- Difference: +$1,762 [+10.6%]
My short-term goal is to reach a Net Worth of $100,000 (which we should be able to reach before 2019). We’re currently at 18.37% on this goal.
Net Worth short-term goal: 18.37%
March 2017 Savings Rate
In terms of savings, we were aiming at a 15% Net Savings Rate last year, and an average of 20% for 2017. So far this year, it’s been three months in a row that we’re crushing this goal (29%, 39% and 32% as of this month). Even if I know that it will be difficult to sustain such a rate (mainly because we’ll be dropping back to a single income soon), at the moment we’re way much better than what I would have hoped for so let’s keep this streak going!
Regarding our Net Savings Rate calculation, here is the breakdown of the formula that works for us:
Net Savings Rate = Savings / (Gross Income – Taxes + Pre-Tax Contributions)
My pre-tax contributions (employer) are included in both sides of the equation to have a better view of our *real* savings rate.
- March 2017 Savings: $1,640
- March 2017 Gross Income: $6,080
- March 2017 Taxes: $1,217
- March 2017 Pre-Tax Contributions: $182
Net Savings Rate: 1640 / (6080 – 1217 + 182)
Net Savings Rate March 2017: 32.51%
- Previous Month: 39.71%
- Difference: -7.2%
This is (again) one of the best month we’ve had since I finished paying off our student loan debt last summer! We’re currently sitting on an average 33% Savings Rate which is great but I’m not sure that we’ll be able to sustain it for the next upcoming months, but we’ll do our best.
March 2017 Summary
I’m always planning ahead with a zero-based budget in mind. This is an easy way to figure out where everything we’re earning is going. Keeping this in mind, let’s summarize where our gross income for the month of March 2017 went to:
- Gross Income (I): $6,080
- Expenses (E): $3,403
- Investments & Savings Post-Tax (S): $1,458
- Taxes (T): $1,217
- Transfer from Savings (TR): $0
As a zero-based approach, here are the details:
I – E – S – T + TR = $6,078 – $3,403 – $1,458 – $1,217 + $0 = $0
Once again, another month where we did not have to dip into our savings anymore (which was quite common last year!) and hopefully from now on we’ll see some huge increase on our savings stash!
And this wraps up my detailed financial report of March 2017! I hope I’ve inspired you with this report (my complete list of reports are listed on my financial stats page), and that you had as much fun looking at mine as I had looking at others! Remember that it’s not a race though, even if the journey seems like a marathon sometimes.
It took me a few months before deciding to start a blog, but this really helped me to focus on my long-term goal of reaching financial independence. Everyone has to take the first steps if they are willing to reach financial freedom, and I’m convinced that everyone with the right resources and some reading can reach its goal. I personally think that it does not take more that 15 years of consistent and diligent saving & investing to be able to reach financial independence even without a very aggressive strategy!