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Discussion Starter · #161 ·
End of November 2020 Update

Savings and Investments

My investable assets: $1.786M. Up about $140.6k for the month.
Her investable assets (excluding DB pension): $553k. Up about $35.3k for the month.
Combined investable assets: $2.340M. Up about $175.9k for the month.

Big gains for the month of November which I’ll primarily attribute to the positive vaccine news. Not sure how much an impact the US elections had on the markets. This was the biggest one month jump for both our portfolios.

It was nice to finally see some life on the dividend side of my portfolio which drove about 2/3’s of the gains for the month. While I can see the rally continuing into December, I don’t expect it will be enough to lift my dividend portfolio to my 2020 totals target. However, it’s looking good to hit my 2020 dividend target. And after not looking so good for most of the year, each of my registered accounts (RRSP, DC Pension, and TFSA) reached my 2020 targets in November. So, I wouldn’t object to a quiet/stable December. I still haven’t deployed a small chunk of cash I’ve been saving so I’ve kind of missed out on this latest rally a bit. But I’m not kicking myself as I’m likely going to deploy it to get my fixed income more in spec.

The missus had gains across the board and has hit the 2020 targets I’ve set out for each component of her portfolio other than her RRSP. It still has a realistic chance to hit its target by year’s end though. She too missed this latest rally with cash savings. Unsure if she’ll deploy it by year’s end.

Spending
November Spend: $4734
YTD Spend: $43840

November’s spend came in just below the midpoint of my estimate. We did end up buying a few things on the list during Black Friday weekend but didn’t end up buying the big ticket replacement appliance item. That will now get pushed to Boxing Day. Overall, we didn’t see a lot of great deals. Another notable spend was a car repair/maintenance item that we knew was coming but just decided to get done this month.

Expecting December to be the typical high spend with xmas gifts and stuff and maybe some Boxing Day shopping (mainly the replacement appliance). We usually spend a bunch on eating out and family meals but not sure how that’s going to play out this year. Depending on the vaccine news, maybe we’ll book a trip/flight for mid-late 2021. Will estimate $4000-6000 again for December with a total year spend of just under $50k which would be similar to last year.

Comments, Concerns, and Issues
  • Work is insane. Looking forward to a few weeks off around Christmas. Had to chuckle under my breath during some recent meetings planning out to 2023.
  • I’m hopeful of the rally continuing on as a Christmas rally but I’ve only batted about .500 for December finishing in the black.
  • With the vaccine news, looking to booking a/some trips for 2021. I’m expecting there to be pent up for travel but I’m guessing the demand will be staggered in 2021 with more people slowly willing to travel again. I’m expecting the floodgates to open in 2022 and likely causing prices to jump.
Countdown to Retirement (April 2022)
16.5 months. Just hit the 500 day to go mark today.
Retirement is still a long way to go as it’s still over a year away but it’s definitely coming into view.
 

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Discussion Starter · #162 ·
This has worked for us in the accumulation stage of our lives as we've had separate accounts (with a joint account for house related expenses). I've managed our investments because he doesn't have much of any financial knowledge and doesn't care to. He trusts me to know what I'm doing. As we move towards full or semi-retirement, possibly as early as next July (I'll be 51; he will be 49), I've talked to him about the near necessity of thinking about our nest egg as one thing (and dropping this seperate accounts outlook). I've suggested that perhaps out of the monthly withdrawals we make, we could put a percentage in each of our individual accounts to allow for some individual spending. He's not wild about this notion but he's giving it some thought.
We similarly keep separate individual accounts with a shared chequing account for most of our expenses. Agree that it would be more pragmatic to manage our savings and investments more holistically while allowing for some structure for individual spending too. I'm just finding it hard to find the right balance so I'm being lazy and just doing nothing about it. lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #163 ·
End of December 2020 Update, Year End Summary, and 2021 Targets

Savings and Investments

My investable assets: $1.816M. Up approximately $29.9k for the month.
Her investable assets (excluding DB pension): $567k. Up about $13.4k for the month.
Combined investable assets: $2.383M.

December ended up being a solid month with the initial small rollouts of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and the eventual agreement of another round of US stimulus checks. Gains for my portfolio were across the board, though, the Canadian dividend payers in my non-registered account were more muted as a whole after a great November versus my ETF heavy registered accounts.
The missus’ portfolio had small gains across the board too with a chunk of the overall gains coming from savings again. Our totals produced a new combined high water mark.

2020 Results and 2021 Plans and Goals
2020 was such a roller coaster year for my portfolio as I’m sure was for many. The year started out great with record highs into late-February. Then the bottom fell out with covid realities starting to set in and the oil price war. A little less scoreboard watching was in order but it still didn't feel great. Remarkably, equities, primarily in the US markets, started showing some life mid-year which eventually led to a record November for my portfolio, when Canadian dividend growers finally joined the party, to get it back on track to hit most of my 2020 targets by year end. The only miss was my non-registered portfolio total but realistically, my key metrics for that component are the annual dividends it produces, which did hit its mark.

The missus’ portfolio suffered from a bit of lost opportunity by not deploying most of cash into her non-registered account. She still hit her target for the year based on original expected contributions but we’ll see if she’s interested in deploying more of her cash in 2021. After readjusting expectations down a bit, her bond heavy RRSP hit its target this year. Her TFSA which is a combo of a balanced fund and bond fund (she really needs to clean up her portfolio) did relatively ok.

I’ve added some info about her DB pension. The numbers shown are based on her pensionable service and contributions to date for that year and roughly what she should expect to receive annually (including a small bridge to 65) if she works to age 55 and starts collecting immediately. It should continue to inch up with additional service years and contributions. However, I’m not expecting her to work full time past age 50 and we’re not sure it will be better to start collecting her pension immediately at 55 or later like at 65.

General goals for 2021 are:
  • Rebalancing the Fixed Income allocation in my registered accounts to a 25-30% range mainly through new contribution purchases.
  • To grow my dividends from $40k to $45k in my non-registered account.
  • See if the missus is interested in cleaning up her portfolio (which has been outstanding ever since I started this diary)
  • It’d be nice to hit $2M in investable assets in my portfolio by the end of 2021 and/or hitting the retirement targets for a couple of my accounts if markets cooperate.

My Portfolio
2019 Actual
2020 Target
2020 Actual
2021 Target
2022 Retirement
EOY (Rough Goals)
Cash CHQ & SAV accts (soft target)24.3k20k27.0k20k30k
Non-Registered835k922k899k1.0M1.1M
RRSP388k416k439k468k450k
TFSA103k115k120k133k135k
DC Pension293k322k332k360k350k
Total1.643M1.795M1.816M1.982M2.065M
Non-Registered Account Dividends3549140000404554500050000

Her Portfolio and Combined Totals
2019 Actual
2020 Target
2020 Actual
Cash CHQ & SAV accounts (soft target)90.7k40k97k
Non-Registered213k252.2k263.7k
RRSP84.0k87.5k89.6k
TFSA94.5k106.5k112.5k
Misc Pension Value (from prev job)3.8k*3.8k3.8k*
DB Pension (non-indexed) Estimate~34k/yr @55
Total486k490k567k
Our Combined Total2.129M2.285M2.383M

Spending
Dec spend: $4650
2020 total spend: $48.5k

We spent a bit under the midpoint of our expected December spend which was somewhat higher than what we wanted to be in our spend because we didn’t end up pulling the trigger on the high price repair we were hoping to address. The repair now gets pushed back to Q1 2021 whenever we get to it. I don’t think we went too crazy on gifts and a little boxing day shopping but it still added up. We also likely subconsciously spent more to work on achieving our spend requirements for a credit card welcome bonus.

We came in under our soft target $50k annual spend again but primarily due to our reduced travel spend which is not the greatest reason to do so as we want to spend dollars on travel. Our overall spend didn’t drop by a lot because we did fit a couple of small trips in early in the year before things shut down in late March and a weekend getaway at the end of summer when cases were still low in BC. Plus, we did a sort of mental re-allocate our travel budget to some non-urgent repairs and some fun/discretionary purchases.

I’m not sure what to forecast for a 2021 spend because it depends when travel opens up AND normalizes a bit which will depend on the vaccine rollout. And, it seems like a lot of things may/will be more expensive in 2021 from property taxes making up for the covid budget gap, to Fortis asking for a rate hike, to food inflation continuing.

Spend Totals
2019 Actual
2020 Estimate
2020 Actual
2021 Estimate
Food & Eating Out13800145001345015000
Housing & Utilities11890145001701017000
Transportation4710495042904500
Personal7780800086208000
Entertainment1540200010902000
Travel965012000-18000381010000-15000
Side Business200200200200
Total4957054000-600004849055000-60000

Food & Eating Out: Our overall food & eating out total went down compared to 2019 because we ate out and socialized less. However, we spent a lot more on groceries. Groceries seemed noticeably more expense and there seemed to be less sales. We also frequently bought groceries for our parents so they wouldn’t have to contend with the crowds, which fell into these totals. And I expect we’ll continue to help them shop into next year. We still did a bunch of takeaway.

I’m reading that food inflation will continue in 2021 so will factor in that for next year’s estimates. I’m also hopeful that we will be able to socialize more and go out for a drink or meal with friends more easily and frequently by mid year so will factor in a slight return to normal for eating out.

Housing & Utilities: Similar to last year, most of the items in this category were higher. But this year, many of the spends had significant increases (>10%). I’m not sure we’re going to get any relief in 2021 and expect costs to continue to rise faster than official CPI numbers. We also kind of reallocated our travel spend on “one-time” household repairs and household items in general (eg new bed). While we pushed out a repair to 2021, I don’t expect these one-time item costs to be as high next year.

Transportation: Transportation costs were lower in 2020, mainly from fuel and car sharing, as we worked from home and went out less. We did do the major servicing (brakes) we anticipated. I don’t think we have any major maintenance slated for 2021. Car insurance is supposed to be going down as a result of less accidents with so many people working from home. I’m hopeful we'll end up going out a bit more in 2021 but expect to work from home most of the year.

Personal: We overspent in a couple of key areas in the personal category. Under health and medicine, we both bought glasses this year (we get reimbursed from benefits but I still track it as an expense). The missus also went to see a specialist to get treated for a nagging issue that we had to partially pay out of pocket for. Charity and gifts were higher due to higher Christmas spending, gifts for some milestone birthdays/life events, and some spends for a couple of friends that got diagnosed with some serious illnesses. We also paid a chunk on some credit card annual fees as we’re playing the credit card welcome bonus churn game. Our spend on clothes was halved with no where to go. However, I’m thinking our 2021 spend in this category will be back within spec.

Entertainment: Our entertainment spend was down since so many leagues, events, festivals, you name it, cancelled this year. If it wasn't for a couple of new golf pieces and some green fees, the entertainment spend would have been tiny. Going to anticipate things normalize a bit in 2021 but still unsure if our teams will rejoin the leagues if they get up and running again. We also frequently go to festivals and the odd Canuck game and concert and who knows when those will be permitted to operate and have live attendees again.

Travel: While travel was mostly shut down this year, as mentioned we did fit in a couple of smaller trips at the start of the year and a local trip at the end of summer so we did have some travel expenses this year. I also had to review my Nexus and bought some travel specific gear. However, for comparisons sake, our travel spend is normally about 20% of our overall spend and this year it was less than 10%.

I’m kind of hoping it will be practical to travel to a few domestic and US destinations in Q3 2021 and maybe an overseas trip late in the year. But I don’t expect us to book anything until we get more clarity on when the vaccine will be deployed to the broader population and touristy things normalize at potential destinations. If case numbers fall, I'm thinking we might do a local spring weekend getaway similar to what we did in the fall but we won't book until last minute since everything is so fluid. Howewver, I’m hoping we can get a jump on most of the masses when things start normalizing but before everyone feels confident to travel again but I’m also concerned about pent up demand pushing up airfares and accommodation costs. At minimum, I'd like to book a huge trip for weeks right after I retire. For 2021, I’ll forecast in the lower end of our typical travel spend.

Side Business: The side business is pretty dormant as this point due to how busy I’ve been at work and the pandemic not making it a very practical venture at this time. I’ll look to relaunch it in Q4 2021 or Q1 2022.

House Value
2019 Assessment: $1.353M
2020 Assessment: $1.467M

A reverse in the multi-year downward trend of our home value according to BC Assessment’s July 2020 valuation. There were a couple of new houses built and sold, some for over $2M, in our neighbourhood in the early part of 2020 that likely drove valuations in part. Unfortunately, it’s likely going to cause our property taxes to increase disproportionately.

Comments, Concerns, and Issues
Wow, 2020 was such a crazy year in so many ways.
  • Finances: It is kind of strange how markets rebounded so strongly from the March lows to eek out solid year of returns. For 2021, I’m reading opinions on far ends of the spectrum; it’s going to be a stellar year of returns as things get back to normal and we’re ready for a huge market decline. Being a relative optimist, I’m kind of leaning towards the former, with a random guess that Canadian equities will pleasantly surprise, but I’m only using relatively muted positive returns for my 2021 targets.
  • Work: I’m expecting 2021 to be pretty busy at work again but I’m hoping to mentally start to slowly detach myself so issues don’t weigh on me as much. Just thinking about other coworkers that have left over the years, work goes on without them, and I expect as much when I leave. I've been looking out a year, dreaming about how this will play out same time next year.
  • Health: The exercising has gone well, albeit with a bit of a break from it during the holidays. Hoping to get back on track in 2021 and keep my weight trending down and fitness levels up.
Countdown to Retirement
15.5 months to go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #164 ·
End of January 2021 Update

Savings and Investments

My investable assets: $1.865M. Up about $48.4k for the month.
Her investable assets (excluding DB pension): $569k. Down about $4.3k for the month.
Combined investable assets: $2.434M. Up about $44.1k for the month.

Kind of an odd month. My portfolio got off to a good start for 2021 with a solid just under $50k gain in January. It was hovering around an $85k gain and which put me above the $1.9M mark for much of the month until things tumbled during the last week. Not sure if the GameStop situation rattled the markets. The Nikkei index is flying. Most of the gains this month came from my Canadian dividend growers side of the portfolio with my RRSP and TFSA eking out small gains for the month and my DC pension taking a small hit. My RRSP broke the $450k mark early in January which was my original retirement target for it, before eventually falling back. Both the missus and I made our annual TFSA contributions early in the month. Not exactly sure where the weakness was in my DC pension. Going to have to take a look at January's performance numbers.

The missus' portfolio was generally weak across the board. Even with the TFSA contribution, it was in the red for the month. Her non-registered investment account had a very small gain. Not included in the gain was $25k in cash she moved from her HISA to her investment account. However, she didn’t buy anything with it yet.

Spending
January Spend: $3100
YTD Spend: $3100

Kind of subpar start to the year. While $3100 doesn’t break the bank, it was more than I expected us to spend. We spent just under $3200 last January but it included a chunk of travel spends which we obviously didn’t have this year. Categories of higher spend consisted of: We spend a lot on groceries this month, in part due to buying groceries for our parents. Our Hydro/electric bill just went nuts. I have to try to figure out why. We also did some latter week Boxing Day shopping that fell into the January spend.

February is a high spend month because it includes the pre-property tax installment. Apart from that big bill, I don’t expect any other surprises. However, we’re trying to satisfy a credit card spend requirements to earn the targeted welcome points so we may have to manufacture some spending which might push up our totals. Going to estimate a February spend in the range of $4500-$5000.

Comments, Concerns, and Issues
  • I felt pretty refreshed the first week back at work after taking a few weeks off the last few weeks of December. But issues quickly started popping up and the rest of January seemed to drag on. I keep saying this but retirement is ooh so close, yet so far.
  • I think the vaccine estimator currently has me slated for a mid-late July vaccination and the missus a week or two after me as BC is rolling it out by age in 5 year increments after the priority population. Hoping the date gets moved up with additional supply and new vaccine approvals.
  • I was hopeful about booking a big trip as early as September but there’s still too much uncertainty with new variants, evolving government policy, etc. Even a small local weekend getaway in the spring seems uncertain.
  • Trying to get back into a healthy eating and exercise routine after slacking off a bit.
Countdown to Retirement (April 2022)
14.5 months to go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #165 ·
End of February 2021 Update

Savings and Investments

My investable assets: $1.863M. Down about $2.1k for the month.
Her investable assets (excluding DB pension): $581k. Up about $11.6k for the month.
Combined investable assets: $2.443M. Up about $9.4k for the month.

The start of February initially continued the great start of the year for my portfolio, powering it above the $1.9M mark again. However, similar to January, the last week/week and a half of the month was not so great and pulled it slightly into the red overall. I’ll blame it on the rising rate concerns. However, in USD terms, I’m up for the month due to the flying loonie. While my registered accounts had small gains, my non-registered account had a small loss even with the nice pop from the financials.
The missus' portfolio has small gains across the board except her bond heavy RRSP which is likely also smarting from the rising rates.

Spending
January Spend: $4580
YTD Spend: $7680

We ended up spending to the lower end of my estimate for February and everything kind of went as expected. The first half of our property taxes was the big bill and we had to force some spend/prepay some expected spends to hit the spending target for our cc welcome incentives. Just to mix things up, we also did a few more takeouts than usual due to the Dine Out Vancouver food festival which we haven’t taken advantage of in years.

March should be a relatively light spend for us, though we may have to force some spend again to hit this month’s cc incentives. Going to estimate a spend of about $2750 to $3250.

Comments, Concerns, and Issues
  • Work is pretty busy but I feel I’m getting back into a good groove. Even though we’re still in the 1st quarter of 2021, there’s already talk about what we need to do in 2022. I’m trying not to take on anything that I can’t complete early into 2021.
  • February also felt like it dragged on. But as I near the 1 year to go mark, retirement itself is starting to become more real in terms of needing to getting ready for it mentally. While I don’t think I’m going to miss work, I don’t want to fall into a “What now?” state of mind. While I'd love to have all sorts of trips lined for the weeks following my retirement date to kind of ease into it from vacation mode, there's still too much uncertainty to feel comfortable booking anything even into 2022.
  • Speaking of traveling, it's kind of weird looking back 1 year because we were still in the midst of doing a few small trips while covid was just starting to go crazy in our parts and toilet paper was harder to buy than... toilet paper during the early days of a pandemic. :D
  • Kind of happy that the days are getting longer and we can get outside for a walk after work while there’s still sun.
Countdown to Retirement (April 2022)
13.5 months to go.
Crossing the 400 day mark a few days before the ides of March.
 

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End of February 2021 Update

Savings and Investments

My investable assets: $1.863M. Down about $2.1k for the month.
Her investable assets (excluding DB pension): $581k. Up about $11.6k for the month.
Combined investable assets: $2.443M. Up about $9.4k for the month.

The start of February initially continued the great start of the year for my portfolio, powering it above the $1.9M mark again. However, similar to January, the last week/week and a half of the month was not so great and pulled it slightly into the red overall. I’ll blame it on the rising rate concerns. However, in USD terms, I’m up for the month due to the flying loonie. While my registered accounts had small gains, my non-registered account had a small loss even with the nice pop from the financials.
The missus' portfolio has small gains across the board except her bond heavy RRSP which is likely also smarting from the rising rates.

Spending
January Spend: $4580
YTD Spend: $7680

We ended up spending to the lower end of my estimate for February and everything kind of went as expected. The first half of our property taxes was the big bill and we had to force some spend/prepay some expected spends to hit the spending target for our cc welcome incentives. Just to mix things up, we also did a few more takeouts than usual due to the Dine Out Vancouver food festival which we haven’t taken advantage of in years.

March should be a relatively light spend for us, though we may have to force some spend again to hit this month’s cc incentives. Going to estimate a spend of about $2750 to $3250.

Comments, Concerns, and Issues
  • Work is pretty busy but I feel I’m getting back into a good groove. Even though we’re still in the 1st quarter of 2021, there’s already talk about what we need to do in 2022. I’m trying not to take on anything that I can’t complete early into 2021.
  • February also felt like it dragged on. But as I near the 1 year to go mark, retirement itself is starting to become more real in terms of needing to getting ready for it mentally. While I don’t think I’m going to miss work, I don’t want to fall into a “What now?” state of mind. While I'd love to have all sorts of trips lined for the weeks following my retirement date to kind of ease into it from vacation mode, there's still too much uncertainty to feel comfortable booking anything even into 2022.
  • Speaking of traveling, it's kind of weird looking back 1 year because we were still in the midst of doing a few small trips while covid was just starting to go crazy in our parts and toilet paper was harder to buy than... toilet paper during the early days of a pandemic. :D
  • Kind of happy that the days are getting longer and we can get outside for a walk after work while there’s still sun.
Countdown to Retirement (April 2022)
13.5 months to go.
Crossing the 400 day mark a few days before the ides of March.
Excellent work! I remember marking on my calendar at work when the 1000 day and 500 day marks would occur. I'm at 87 days to go now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #168 ·
End of March 2021 Update

Savings and Investments

My investable assets: $1.880M. Up about $17.4k for the month.
Her investable assets (excluding DB pension): $592k. Up about $11.7k for the month.
Combined investable assets: $2.473M. Up about $29.1k for the month.

The markets for my portfolio continue to be all over the place during the month. For the first part of March, the dividend growth side of my portfolio provided a big component of gain while the index side was relatively flat. During the last half of the month, some of the dividend growth stocks wobbled a bit while the index side provided some gains.
My RRSP finished the month above my retirement target of $450k which was kind of satisfying in that I’m trending towards hitting most/all of my portfolio’s targets.

The missus' portfolio had a fairly similar month like last with small gains across the board again but with her bond heavy RRSP essentially flat.

Spending
March Spend: $2330
YTD Spend: $10010

Without any big bills and not too much shopping this month, we came in below the lower end of my $2750 estimate. The largest category was groceries which is trending towards another record spend for the year.

However, April is another heavy spend month for us with home and car insurance due. While I haven’t received our 2021 home insurance bill yet, car insurance seems to be quite a bit less expensive with the provincial insurer moving partially to no-fault. Income taxes, which I do not count as part of our spend, will likely impact our savings as I’ll be owing again this year as well as the missus.
Going to estimate April’s spend to be in the $5000 to $5500 range.

Comments, Concerns, and Issues
  • Work feels a bit odd. I’m still working through my projects but my manager tells me that we’re likely going to be changing some of the work around possibly starting mid-April. Not sure of the full impact to me yet.
  • Crossing the 1 year to go mark this month is kind of exciting because I think the countdown will feel more tangible versus the 5-10 years I’ve been scheming for this. I think the last 6 months will fly by because I’m backloading a bunch of vacation time.
  • I am so itching to get to a more return to normal. Comparatively, we've been very lucky in BC with limited restrictions. However, it's a challenge to keep things interesting. Normally, with the additional daylight and warmer weather, we'd be close to departing on a big spring trip or checking out what festivals and events were happening the upcoming weekend. We're still not ready to book our next trip yet.

Countdown to Retirement (April 2022)
12.5 months to go.
 

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Curious thought, and maybe it has been addressed somewhere in your thread;

With your investable assets at 2.4M you could draw about 125K per year at a 4% growth rate for 35 years, plus wife DB pension, plus CPP/OAS and you also have a 1.5M house...your income could be almost 200k in retirement but your current spend is only 50k a year... do you plan to increase spending in retirement or do you have specific plans?

Congrats on a nice portfolio!
 

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Agree with TK.61, unless Milhouse plans to drastically change his lifestyle in retirement, he could have retired a long time ago. Looking at the original post, it seems he's basing a lot of his withdrawals from non-registered dividends, which is probably why such a huge amount of capital is needed. I'm not a fan of this approach because you end up with a lot of useless capital at end-of-life, at the cost of many retirement years. But heh, personal finance is personal...
 

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Discussion Starter · #171 ·
Thanks for the question.

TL/DR version: In additional to providing an extra margin of safety, yes, we’re looking to heavily increase our travel spend in retirement and expect to pay more out of pocket for medical/extened health expenses.

I think I’ve alluded to a few of our plans in some posts but I forget in how much detail.

Foundationally, a larger nest egg just helps satisfy our psychological need for an extra degree of safety to handle market swings, inflation, unexpected/emergency expenses, etc. Last year’s market dip was a bit of a test and while it didn’t feel great, I never felt the need to go into panic mode. As cliche as it sounds, that’s something I value beyond what the math says my portfolio supports in terms of a retirement spend (while the missus is just happy sticking her head in the sand). However, I also don't want to downplay that generating our current $50k annual spend (which funds a pretty enjoyable life) from our current nest egg should be doable in standard market conditions based on most calculators out there.

Some of the income streams listed have varying degrees of risk also. As Thal notes, my portfolio relies heavily on dividends which obviously can be cut or suspended. The missus’ pension could apparently be as low as $15k/yr if she stops working now and starts collecting at age 55 due to recent increased penalties for starting payments asap. I’m also not confident about receiving OAS as it wouldn’t surprise me if they significantly adjust the clawback rules.

On the spending side of things, yes, we expect spending to increase in a few categories. On the fun side, to goal has been and still is to try to travel about 180 days per year (which keeps our provincial health coverage active) on multiple trips (not a continuous 180 days). This is where I'm targeting the bulk of our additonal spend in retirement. A revised rough guess is that this will gradually increase our travel spend from our current ~$10k/yr to $55k-60k/yr or more due to the additional days and increasing the comfort. As we age and get softer, I think the way we travel will evolve and we’ll need to spend more money on comfort like limiting redeye flights, better accommodations than the hole in the walls we occasionally stay at, more cruising, maybe the odd business class seat splurge, etc. And a big question mark I have is what travel costs will look like coming out of the pandemic as there are so many unknowns and variables.
I also see our dining out and entertainment spend increasing by trying out a broader range of restaurants and checking out a few more paid events.

As we both leave work, we’ll be losing a range of work benefits that we’ll need to account for. Our combined extended health benefits currently provide great travel health insurance that we’ll eventually need to buy ourselves. Nearly all of our dental coverage will need to be replaced too. I haven’t tracked dental in our monthly spend as it gets billed directly to the benefits providers (whereas all of the other benefits where we pay out of pocket first and get reimbursed have been tracked in our monthly spend).

I’m not sweating leaving behind a large estate if that’s what ends up happening.
The house serves as a capital asset of last resort and will likely end up being a large component of the inheritance we leave our nieces and nephews and whatever's left of the estate. Maybe set up a family trust??

Sure, I think it would have been nice to retire a few years earlier because the last couple of years have been kind of a grind but things have kind of worked out in various ways. Bigger challenge will be getting the missus to retire. :D

Re: Needing a large portfolio going the dividend route. Not sure about that though I haven't done the a detailed comparison.
My dividend portfolio is yielding about 4.5%. Granted it’s 100% equity and it’s a concentrated portfolio and all the risks that go along with that. However, I'm also not married to the dogma of never selling the capital in my dividend portfolio.
For my ETF indexing side, I’m targeting a 70:30 configuration which at my current age allows for about 4.5-4.6% VPW rate so it seems like I would extract a similar amount for both at least at the start with the same nest egg and with the parameters I've chosen.
 

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Outstanding work Milhouse, my goodness.

With invested assets of yours approaching $2M and your wife's (without any pension value) approaching $600k, you are going to enjoy a very, very "spendable" retirement to say the least.

Those are numbers most Canadians (99.5%+) will never realize. Kudos on the savings and investing prowess.
 

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Discussion Starter · #173 ·
Thanks Mark.
We've been fortunate with our incomes and I'm pretty happy with our spend/saving discipline.
However, I think our investing has only been adequate as we made so many typical mistakes and missed some pretty big opportunities in real estate, growth/tech stocks, etc. However, it does feel good that we didn't have to be perfect and were able to get this far just sticking with some common vanilla investment strategies.
 

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However, I think our investing has only been adequate as we made so many typical mistakes and missed some pretty big opportunities in real estate, growth/tech stocks, etc. However, it does feel good that we didn't have to be perfect and were able to get this far just sticking with some common vanilla investment strategies.
I wouldn't say that. I'd say you chose not to roll the dice. You don't know, except in hindsight, who the winners were going to be, nor do you know who the future 10 winners will be 10 years out. Had you gone aggressive, there was a chance 50% of your choices could have imploded. Technically, you have won with approximately index returns.

FWIW, I would have been loosening the purse strings already. You don't just automatically double your spend rate shortly after retirement. I learned after about 5 years of retirement to stay in good accommodation and to fly business class. I don't need to tear up my 72 old body any more than it is already in B- or C+ travel.
 

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We came in under our soft target $50k annual spend again
milhouse, I've got to say you're an inspiration to me. I have often worried about how expenses tend to creep upward over the years, and I've seen a few examples of how a couple living in a house can spend huge amounts of money.

I'm intrigued by how your annual spend at 50k (for two people) is only a bit higher than my single-person spending, and that gives me a lot of hope that I can keep this number low! Maybe I can even cut my spending right now.

In which category do you place services such as cell phones & internet?
How about necessities such as hardware, kitchenware, housewares, cleaning supplies? Is that under 'Personal'?
 

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Discussion Starter · #177 ·
End of April 2021 Update

Savings and Investments

My investable assets: $1.927M. Up about $46.5k for the month.
Her investable assets (excluding DB pension): $603k. Up about $10.5k for the month.
Combined investable assets: $2.529M. Up about $56.9k for the month.

Solid returns for our portfolios this April and hit some milestone numbers which was kind of nice.

The month also followed a similar pattern as previous months for my portfolio where the numbers started out great the first half of the month and then faded a bit the latter part of the month. Nice gains across my portfolio with the non-registered dividend growers doing most of the work including a number of quarterly payouts and my DC pension continuing to show some life.

Pretty steady as she goes for the missus' portfolio as it gained just over $10k again with her bond heavy RRSP essentially flat, just like the last 2 months.

Spending
April Spend: $4540
YTD Spend: $14540

We were able to stay below the lower end of our expected $5000 spend in April which included our home and auto insurance.

Our home insurance premium was slated to go up over 40% from 2020 (and to double of what we paid in 2017) even though we’ve never made a claim. Instead, we reduced it by 20% by going with a new provider and refining our coverage. That said it’s really hard to evaluate your provider until you have to make a claim but the online reviews seem mostly good.

Our car insurance also went down by about 20-25% due to the provincial insurer moving to a partial no-fault coverage. It doesn’t go into effect until May 1 but people started seeing the savings at the start of the year I think. We also received a rebate cheque based on our 2020 coverage since there were fewer people driving and correspondingly less accidents last year.

Our grocery bill was somewhat huge again, likely partially due to the fact we’ve been buying groceries for our folks to save them the trip out.

Our income tax owed was lower than expected which was a nice surprise. I’m assuming it was due to a combo of more being tax deducted per paycheck and the basic personal amount credit increasing. I don’t include our income tax owing as part our spend but I do track it.

May’s spend could be all over the place. On the lower end it could be about $3000. While May is generally a relatively quiet spend month for us other than maybe some spring travel expenses, this year there are a handful of unique birthdays and a baby shower we're wanting to buy special gifts for. We’re also thinking about fixing some fencing around the house. If we end up doing the fixes, our spend could come in around $5500+ depending on the fencing options we choose.

Comments, Concerns, and Issues
  • Strangely, my Monday to Friday cycle at work feels like it’s going by faster nowadays. Not sure if it’s because I’m busy and in a rhythm or because my retirement date is fast approaching.
  • Got a raise. I really have to hand it to my current manager who has fought for my salary increases the last few years after it somewhat stagnated a few of years while in a different team.
  • We were going to try to get the AZ vaccine when the opened it up to age 40+ in BC but we were kind of slow on the draw and didn’t go through the effort of getting on a waitlist or searching around. However, we aren’t really concerned about missing out since the main age based vaccination stream seems to be going through the age cohorts fairly quickly. And it’s trending like we’ll be able to book an appointment sometime over the next couple of weeks as they are starting to book 54 year olds. I think we're the only ones among our siblings and parents that haven't been vaccinated yet. 😄
Countdown to Retirement (April 2022)
11.5 months to go
 

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Discussion Starter · #178 ·
FWIW, I would have been loosening the purse strings already. You don't just automatically double your spend rate shortly after retirement. I learned after about 5 years of retirement to stay in good accommodation and to fly business class. I don't need to tear up my 72 old body any more than it is already in B- or C+ travel.
One of the things I've read and take to heart is the psychological difficulty in transitioning from saving and building your nestegg to cracking it open and spending it. I'm building a bit of a plan to gradually ramp up spending during the 5 years post retirement based on tapping into different accounts.
On our last big trip in 2019, we stayed in some pretty basic accommodation that I won't say was horrible (close though) but it definitely wasn't the most comfortable: washroom shelves weren't level so stuff slid off, room was a bit of a sauna when returning for a mid afternoon break, only two power outlets and in the most inconvenient locations, etc. I think that was where we agreed that going forward, we should allow ourselves to spend a bit more on accommodations. 🤓
 

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Discussion Starter · #179 ·
I'm intrigued by how your annual spend at 50k (for two people) is only a bit higher than my single-person spending, and that gives me a lot of hope that I can keep this number low! Maybe I can even cut my spending right now.

In which category do you place services such as cell phones & internet?
How about necessities such as hardware, kitchenware, housewares, cleaning supplies? Is that under 'Personal'?
TBH, I was thinking your spending numbers in your thread were really good.
I think our key is that the missus is more of a saver than a spender and when she does spend, she's always looking for a deal. I don't feel 2 people necessarily spends a lot more than a single. The big rock I think is having separate cars so if a couple can share, that's a big win.

I put cell phones and internet in their own separate sub-categories under Housing and Utilities as I consider them kind of monthly utilities in a broad sense. The missus is on a cheap Public Mobile plan while I'm on a special plan my company negotiated that I can also use on my personal cell so my cell costs are going to go up after I retire.
I put hardware, kitchenware, housewares, and cleaning supply all under a "Household" sub-category under Housing and Utilities as I consider them regular stuff to keep the house functional. I also have a sub-category for "Repairs, Maintenance, and Cleaning" to track larger one off spends of this nature and another subcategory "Furniture, Applicances, etc" to easily track/identify some of the bigger ticket purchases.

We're lucky in that we have a relative that helps us with a lot of our house repairs and he doesn't charge us a lot. We end up also taking him out to lunch/dinner every so often and bring him gifts back when we travel. For a lot of the stuff that he can't handle or isn't ticketed for, he has buddies that he gets to do the work inexpensively.
 

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TBH, I was thinking your spending numbers in your thread were really good.
I think our key is that the missus is more of a saver than a spender and when she does spend, she's always looking for a deal. I don't feel 2 people necessarily spends a lot more than a single.
Thanks! This is a great point, having your partner also be a saver rather than a spender.

I put cell phones and internet in their own separate sub-categories under Housing and Utilities as I consider them kind of monthly utilities in a broad sense
Thanks, this explains a lot. I'm going to try to compare us just to make sure I'm not doing something dumb or careless.

The big difference appears to be housing. Would it be fair to say that this is due to me renting (~ 20k) while you own a house? If you have any other insights, I'd love to hear.

Look how close we are (or with person scaling) in other categories. I've marked these with "equiv".

Milhouse 2020 ($K)James4beach last 12 months ($K)
Food & eating out13.56.7 (equiv)
Housing & utilities & supplies17.026.7
Transportation4.31.8 (equiv)
Personal8.64.2 (equiv)
Entertainment1.10.9 (equiv)
Travel3.80.5
Side business / self employment0.21.5
Moving-3.2
TOTAL48.545.5
 
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