As the year winds down, it’s time for my 2022 financial check in.
It’s been quite a year for me. More difficult for me emotionally than financially. I’m eyeing retirement and doing a lot of research of what my retirement will be like.
If you recall in my Inching Towards Retirement Check List, retirement comes down to where, when, and how we retire. Retirement is something we have to think about. Finances keep getting more and more complicated. We’re seeing rising inflation rates. Grocery prices and gas prices keep going up. Housing keeps getting more and more expensive. It’s not going to get easier when we retire and our job income shuts down.
My 2021 financial check in
Life changing events happen. Priorities change. Retirement decisions are reevaluated.
I’ll be referring to my 2021 financial check in that I wrote just a little over a year ago. Some things have changed and others I’m still on track.
Prices go up.
Stocks go down.
Last year I found a new job and a new place for my horse, Cajun, to live. With these two items checked off, it was time to go full steam putting my savings back on track.
The short version
I don’t know that I’m capable of doing a short version of anything!
But here goes…
I’m still working the same job I found about a year and a half ago. It’s an amazing company and I count my lucky stars daily that we found each other.
Cajun is still living in the same boarding stable he was a year ago. I never got a call from my preferred boarding stable about coming off the waitlist. It doesn’t matter. Cajun is happy and well cared for. The only downer is the board increased from $500 to $575.
Yup, food for animals has been going up in price too.
Cajun had two vet visits this year.
He went a little lame on and off earlier this year and it never really cleared up, though movement seemed to help. I figured there was something going on with his stifle and my vet came out to do x-rays. Unfortunately he has arthritis in that stifle, which is what I was fearing. A cortisone shot helps with pain and movement.
That was about $1,000. Ka ching!
And he’ll need this shot yearly. Ka ching!
Oh well. One of the joys of horse ownership. I just want him to be comfortable and pain free.
A few months later it was his annual shots and teeth floating. Trust me on this. Worse than going to the dentist for teeth cleaning! Routine vet work that still cost around $500. It costs $100 just for the vet visit to the farm. And the prices goes up from there. Exam. X-rays. Shots.
Yup, some of us have expensive hobbies…
Look who had a nice roll in the muck with the rain blanket I bought last month!
Retirement savings match
Lucky me! My job has a retirement savings match program! I signed up for it right away. I don’t like to leave free money on the table. My employer matches up to 4% of my income and I have the option to contribute more, so I added an extra 5% of my income. So far it’s been manageable and I’ve been able to stick with that plan.
Unfortunately, the money goes into a Manulife mutual fund. I’m not a big fan on mutual funds due to the high MER (management fees) charged. Canada has the highest MERs in the world so that’s why buying similar ETFs on the stock market with their lower MERs is a smarter choice.
It’s kind of an interesting fund in that staff are automatically put into a fund that matches their approximate retirement date. Mine is the Manulife Retirement Date 2025 and the MER is .68% so that’s better than over 1% or 2% that most MERs charge.
After about 16 months or so, the value of this RRSP is just over $7,000. Not too shabby for money that is deducted off my pay so I never see it or notice it missing. I’m a fan of the set it and forget it investing. I rarely check the value of this RRSP, only taking a peek for this post.
If your employer has any type of matching retirement savings plan, take advantage of it. If it’s deducted off your paycheck, you won’t notice it missing. But one day you’ll notice a nice little chunk of change sitting in your retirement account!
I’ve talked about my TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account) a few times. This Government of Canada website explains the contributions better than I can!
My TFSA is fully funded with a combination of GICs (cash) and stocks. The annual contribution limit is $6,000, which means if I’m going to make it happen, I need to put away $500/month. That’s really tough to do on a low income.
I’m happy to report that with November and December still to go, I have met my $500 a month goal and will fund the remaining $1,000 before year end. Yay me!
The $6,000 will be transferred to my Questrade TFSA account in January and I’ll likely purchase more ETFs.
The Canadian government adjusts the annual TFSA limit due to inflation and rounds up to the nearest $500. For 2023 it looks like it’ll be $6,500. Moving forward, starting in 2023 I’ll have to increase my monthly goal to $550 so I can fully fund my TFSA.
Other saving goals
Besides the TFSA, I have two other savings accounts I contribute to each pay period. I put $200 a month in my travel fund. In another savings account I put aside money to pay my taxes in April. That’s $50 every two weeks = $100 a month.
It sucks being low income and paying taxes instead of getting a refund. Life is not easy in Canada for lower income single women.
I’ve decided to beef up my emergency savings again, aiming to put $75 from each paycheck into that account.
Think you don’t need an emergency fund? I guess you don’t have unexpected dentist, medical, vet, or car mechanic bills!
Who cares about your money?
Read Nobody Cares About My Money More Than I Do to find out what you need an emergency fund for. And what an emergency fund is not for.
If you can put $20 from every paycheck into an emergency savings account, in a year you’ll be halfway to saving $1,000. Your goal should be $1,000 in your emergency fund as soon as you can. Then keep building it up. Because one day you just know a root canal or broken fan belt is in your future.
How is everyone doing with their expenses this year with rising prices at the grocery stores and gas pumps?
My area of Canada has the highest gas prices in North America. Gas prices are over $2 a liter. For my American friends there’s about 5 liters in a gallon, so do a rough math. If you’re paying less than $10 a gallon when you fill up your car – you are lucky!
I don’t understand how gas prices can jump up 20¢ a liter in a day. Has anyone in the states seen their gas prices jump up a dollar a gallon in a day?
OK, moving on.
The biggest expense most people have is housing.
If I’ve had one bright side this year in the elimination of an expense – it’s my rent. I’m living in a house that my company owns – for free! Yes, I am housesitting this amazing house until it gets demolished, which will probably be sometime in 2023.
I’ve been doing a sensible thing and putting the approximate equivalent of rent into a savings account each month, so that way I’m not getting used to spending the extra money. Each paycheck, I transfer $500 a month into a savings account. That’s $1,000 a month that might have been spent on rent.
And here I want to say ha ha. Finding a place to rent for $1,000 in the country’s highest rental market might be a big laugh. But when the time comes to move and pay rent again, I’ll be able to dip into this fund to make up the difference in my monthly rent.
Financial plans are something that are constantly changing based on our needs, wants, and life situations.
You don’t need to spend a thousand bucks hiring a financial consultant to write up a financial play for you. We are all about DYI. You can draw up your own plan.
In the past, we’ve talked about various components needed for a financial plan. You want to understand your income and expenses. You want to figure out how to pay off debt, put money aside for retirement, create an emergency fund, and how to achieve your goals.
The following links should give you ideas on things you need to include on your financial plan and how to make them happen.
- Women and Money: Short Term Needs and Long-Term Goals.
- Track your Spending using a Backwards Budget.
- Taking Control of Debt on a Low Income.
- Nobody Cares More about my Money than I Do.
Financial plan in progress
In 2022 my financial plan adjusted by my life circumstances. I ended up mostly throwing as much money as I can at various savings accounts.
Basically that means I have very little money left over in my bank account for daily living expenses. I’m living very frugally.
Out of 9 things on the financial plan I made last year, I only accomplished 5 of them. One of the items on my list about increasing the value of my investments took a beating as the stock market had a rough year. I might not have increased my investments, but most of them are about the same dollar amount they were last year.
Better than my net worth rapidly sinking.
Anyway I decided to move that one off my financial plan because the markets are out of my control.
Right now my financial plan looks something like this:
1. Incur no debt.
2. Continue contributing to employer matched RRSP.
$500 $550(?) a month for next year’s TFSA.
4. Build my vacation fund by $200 monthly.
5. Put aside $100 a month for taxes.
6. Pretend to pay rent by saving $1000 a month in online bank.
7. Retirement planning.
If you need more information on creating a financial plan, there’s a great article at Clever Girl Finance: https://www.clevergirlfinance.com/blog/ten-steps-to-creating-a-solid-financial-plan/
2022 financial check in
As 2022 winds down, I can see that I’ve hit a lot of the goals from my financial plan, especially the savings goals. Plus the unexpected savings from not paying rent. I almost feel like I’m cheating in a way. Even though I don’t spend that “rent” money, it’s sitting there available in my savings accounts. Not everyone is lucky enough to have that luxury.
And to be honest, I didn’t always put $500 from each paycheck into that savings account. When I knew the credit card bill was coming in for that vet visit for routine annual treatment, I decided not to stress myself financially and paid the credit card bill with that money instead of my “rent” account.
And I did that one other time with a car repair bill that came in just under $500.
I’m very thankful I’m not paying rent this year and am able to beef up some of my savings accounts. Not everyone is this fortunate.
Have you created a financial plan yet? Grab a pen and paper and start figuring out what your financial goals are. When you write down your goals, you’re more likely to put them into action.
Published by Cheryl @ The Lifestyle Digs on November 12, 2022.