And just like that, 2016 has come and gone and 2017 is here. It is tradition to review last year's goals and create new goals for the new year. In summary, I achieved most of my 2016 personal finance goals but definitely failed on one of the goals, which you will read about shortly.
Here is a review of my 2016 Personal Finance Resolutions:
Max out Tax Free Savings Account
The TSX has done mighty fine in 2016 and the maximum allowable limit in the TFSA for 2016 was $46,500. My TFSA which is comprised mainly of TSX listed exchange traded funds and equities has surpassed the $60,000 mark and is sitting around the $63,000 mark. Here is the chart detailing the maximum allowable limits since the inception of the TFSA in 2009.
Max out RRSP
This wasn't very difficult to do because there isn't much RRSP contribution room since I have a defined benefit pension. I was able to max this out and streamline the RRSP this year to just include US and International exchange traded funds and equities.
Increase Net Worth to $420,000
My goal for 2016 was to increase my net worth to $420,000 and $450,000 if I included the commuted value of my defined benefit pension. So far, I have surpassed this goal by almost $32,000. With my pension contributions I am at $510,000. This feels amazing because that means I am half way to becoming a millionaire! Hopefully it won't take me as long to reach the second $500,000 as it did the first!
To be honest I was worried about achieving this goal because I was off by $800 last year with a similar goal ($385,000 if I recall correctly). However, the stock market performed amazingly this year, our wedding was under budget, and I was able to sock away more money than I anticipated. I decreased my exposure to Canadian dividend stocks so that my asset allocation was better distributed and hence my portfolio saw better returns, although the TSX was stellar this year. My 2016 return was about 7% which is perfectly fine with me!
Read Four Financial Books
I think I achieved this. One of them wasn't really a financial book per se, but a real estate investing book.
- Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, by Alice Shroeder
- Beating the Street, by Peter Lynch
- One Up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch
- Real Estate Investing in Canada by Don Campbell
They were all good and I especially liked the Warren Buffett book. It was great since I went to see him at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual General Meeting and got to stalk him at the steakhouse and at his house.
The Real Estate Investing in Canada book was also pretty good and very persuasive and convincing, almost tempted me to want to buy an investment property (he talks about them like “doors” and makes it sound very easy to invest) but then I calmed down and stepped away from the Kool-aid. The book was written in a style similar to The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton, like a narrative story.
Spend a Set Amount on Travel
I set the amount of $5000 for annual travel (which is kind of ridiculous if you ask me, it's quite a lot) but given that I used to spend $5,000-$7000 a year on travel (oh you know, one month trip in South America and then another trip to Tibet). This year I managed to go to the Yukon (to save money we used points and we stayed with a friend), Omaha to see Warren Buffett, a cruise, Myanmar and Thailand, and Hawaii under this budget! A bit of the Hawaii budget went to the wedding budget since we got married in Hawaii.
It was indeed an epic year for travel.
Continue Alternate Month Shopping Ban
I think this was passable, I did pretty good on most shopping ban months but wasn't completely regimented about it. I found that on the non-shopping ban months I still wouldn't really be buying much. I think the shopping ban helped me increase awareness and consciousness about my purchases. It really helped to declutter my home and try and embrace more minimalism because when you declutter and get rid of clothes you wonder why you bought those clothes in the first place! I even turned down a trip to a warehouse sale with a friend!
Increase Dividend Income
In 2015 my dividend income was $4900 and in 2016 my goal was to hit $6000 in passive dividend income. In 2016 my dividend income was even less than 2015, and somewhere around $4500 for the year. Although I am disappointed that my dividend income isn't that great, I am happy with the growth in my portfolio. I did tell myself that: “I won't do this at the expense of chasing dividends, and would be happy with a growth in my portfolio even if I don't hit the $6000 target.”
Readers, how did you fare on your 2016 resolutions?
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