My Goals for 2018

Is it too early for New Year’s resolutions? Well, I’m going to tell you what mine are anyhow! I only recently came to the realization that early retirement was a real possibility for me. And I think that’s why I’m thinking about resolutions: because these resolutions will set me free even earlier!

My first resolution is to get my finances in order. I’m not talking about paying off debts: I don’t have any. I’m talking about being a little more organized when it comes to managing my money. I’ve always been good at saving money, but I’m also good at throwing money away by not strategizing.

About two years ago, I finally made the decision to move all of my money into dividend-paying stocks, and to DRIP everything. The problem is that I’ve always done all of my investing in a taxable account. A pretty bad decision, of course, because I’m losing money to taxes. I’ve just opened a Tax-Free Savings Account-better late than never! I still need to get some paperwork to the bank before the account is officially mine, but I’ll be taking care of that next week. Then I’ll move all of my REITs over.

I’m also going to start putting money into my RRSP again. It’s been years since I’ve touched my RRSP, but I’m going to have to put some money in this year in order to avoid getting hit on my taxes in April. My dividend income is up $6000 from last year, and I’ve taken about $7500 in capital gains. So I’m a little nervous about income tax time!

My second resolution is to continue downsizing and decluttering. My goal is not to be an extreme minimalist, although I do envy people who have so few possessions that they can fit them all into a couple of bags. But I want to get rid of things that I don’t need or don’t use. The hardest part will be getting rid of things that have sentimental value. The big challenge will be to part with my Cabbage Patch Kids. I got seven of them when I was a kid and they’ve always been the one thing I thought I’d always hang on to. But then I remember something that I’ve heard various people say at various times: we spend most of our lives accumulating stuff, and then we give it all away when we reach old age. Those dolls will all end up in someone else’s possession eventually, so it might as well happen now. And I have to remind myself that they really are nothing but cloth and stuffing!

My third resolution is to track my spending a little more, which I hope will help me decrease my spending. I used to track every penny I spent. It was especially good at helping me with my grocery budget. I quickly memorized all the regular prices for items, which meant that it was much easier to spot a deal. I go to grocery stores now and I have no idea if a store is overcharging or undercharging.

Tracking my spending will also show me how much I’m spending on unnecessary items. I went to the grocery store today and stayed out of the bakery, ice cream and junk food aisles. And I spent a few dollars less than I would normally spend. Imagine how much money I could save if I stayed out of those aisles every time I was in there. And how much that money would grow if I put it into dividend-paying stocks and let it compound!

So those are my three main goals for 2018: to track my spending, to organize my investments, and to get rid of things that I don’t need. The first two goals should help me bring my projected dividend income up to about $13,500 by the end of 2018. And the third goal should help me out mentally. Less physical clutter means less stress, which should mean less spending!

October 2017 Expenses and Earnings

I hope to make one of these posts every month: a record of my earnings from my job at the post office, and a breakdown of all my spending over the previous month.  I try to use my credit card as often as possible because I get Air Miles that I can redeem for free groceries. So it’s hard to track every single penny  but I will try to single out the major monthly expenses.

My net earnings in October 2017 were $3242.37. That includes ten hours of overtime.

My total expenses were  $1349.48. The breakdown of my expenses is:

  • Rent: $752.34
  • Gym Membership: $11.30
  • Laundry card top-up: $20
  • Service charges: $4.95
  • Cell Phone: $22.60
  • Internet: $102.25
  • iTunes: $3.87
  • Netflix: $8.99
  • Food & Misc.: $423.19

Financially speaking, food has always been my downfall. I’m an emotional eater and I love chocolate! I’m going to try to cut back on junk food for the sake of my physical health as well as my financial health. I don’t want illness to ruin early retirement! One thing I can definitely do to reduce my spending in this category is to eat out less. I go to Subway a couple of times a week, Starbucks once, and I often go to a pizza place for lunch on workdays.  I can definitely cut back on that!

My cell phone bill is about as low as it can get. I have a pay-as-you go plan, and I only use my phone for calling and texting. I can wait until I get home and turn on my laptop to check the Internet. Speaking of the Internet, I know my plan is overpriced. I will research cheaper plans when I have the time. Suggestions from fellow Canadians are welcome!

Netflix…well, I don’t want to give that up! I don’t think $9 a month is a big deal, and it’s cheaper than cable.

I hand-washed my clothes for years but I finally gave that up a few months ago. I just couldn’t get my clothes as clean as the washing machine can. I decided the laundry card was a good investment if it’ll extend the life span of my clothes. Of course, good frugalist that I am, most of my t-shirts come from thrift shops and only cost about $5 each. I will still let my clothes air dry in my apartment rather than using the dryer.

Contest Win – Free Pizza!

I first became interested in contests about eight years ago. I’m not sure what first sparked my interest, but suddenly I was spending about an hour a day entering daily-entry contests, and looking for new contests to enter. My biggest win was $500 worth of skin care products. I also won CDs, a DVD, a handbag, sunglasses, baby bath toys, and plenty of books. I’m not sure why I lost interest in entering contests. I think it’s because I realized that I had too much stuff and wanted to downsize, so it didn’t make sense to acquire more. However, I’ve decided to give contests another try. I’m going to focus on things that I actually need and that are practical.  And I have won something already: one free pizza! I redeemed my coupon yesterday and got this:

This translated into two free meals. Saving money is just as exciting as earning money!

October 2017 Dividends

I created this blog primarily to track my dividend income, so here is my first dividend income post! In October 2017 I received dividends from the following companies:

Algonquin Power (AQN)….. 29.90
Altagas (ALA)….. 52.68
American Hotel REIT (HOT.UN)….. 23.67
Artis REIT (AX.UN)….. 33.75
Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS)….. 33.97
Bell (BCE)….. 63.86
CIBC (CM)….. 119.60
Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ)….. 11
Cominar REIT (CUF.UN)….. 36.77
Crombie REIT (CRR.UN)…..18.99
Enbridge Income Fund (ENF)….. 18.82
Extendicare (EXE)….. 14.28
H&R REIT (HR.UN)….. 38.18
Inter Pipeline (IPL)….. 41.18
Keyera (KEY)….. 18.34
Northland Power (NPI)….. 11.16
Northview REIT (NVU.UN)….. 23.22
Northwest Healthcare (NWH.UN)….. 56.07
Pembina Pipeline (PPL)….. 10.20
Pure Industrial REIT (AAR.UN)….. 7.20
Riocan REIT (REI.UN)….. 50.41
Rogers Sugar (RSI)….. 78.57
Slate REIT (SRT.UN)….. 23.84
Telus (T)….. 16.75
Transcanada Corp. (TRP)….. 15.63

TOTAL: $848.04

I made enough money to cover my rent and most of my Internet bill! In about three years from now, my dividend income should be enough to cover ALL of my expenses. And in five years, my dividend income should be high enough that I’ll be free to give up my full-time job!