The amazing things you learn when you tally your investments


Like most people, we’ve tried to do all the right things, adhering to the standard personal finance advice: save for retirement, pay off your debt, take advantage of benefits such as retirement matching, save an emergency fund…blah blah blah. Sometimes we’ve hit the mark and sometimes we’ve made mistakes but in general we’ve at least tried to accumulate some savings and keep our debt non-existent.

When Mr. Tucker first got a job that wasn’t hourly and that paid a decent amount, it coincided with the birth of our first child. We moved out of our inexpensive condo downtown and into renting the house we currently live in. I had to reduce the hours I worked (read: baby happened) but we also didn’t want to spend everything we earned. So Mr. Tucker and I made an appointment with a financial advisor at the bank and set up an RRSP with a monthly withdrawal rate of $500. Over the years we have accumulated/paid off debt, skimped and saved, and sometimes spent with wild abandon but we always, always, always had that $500 come out of our account automatically for retirement.

Knowing what I know now, the fees on those investments are ridiculous, so in 2017 we are moving them over to another company, whose investments have a low MER (Management Expense Ratio) and better performance.

Mr. Tucker and I have our goals, yes, but we also plan to clean up some other aspects of our financial life. So last night we discussed it and I created a spreadsheet to track our investments to see how we were doing in terms of savings.

To clarify, Mr. Tucker had an RRSP with his previous company that seemed to do well, so when he moved on to new employment we just left it there to grow. He also has stocks from another company he worked for, his private RRSP, I have an RRSP, and of course we have money allocated for savings. So we logged into all the accounts, checked the amounts and plopped it into our new fancy tracking spreadsheet.

What an eye opener!

Even though all the amounts seem small-ish on their own, when we added them all up, we’re set up to hit 6-figures next month. WHAT? Who knew?

We always felt like we were significantly behind on our savings goals but when we actually sat down and figured it all out, we actually were doing quite well. We had done all the right things and took the “set it and forget it” view and it worked. In retrospect I should have done better management investment-wise but there is no reason to beat myself up about the past – we’re working on fixing that now. No point in being upset about things you cannot change.

So if you feel like you are behind everyone else, or haven’t done the right things finance-wise, there is no reason for you to not change that right now. You may realize you are doing better than you think, or that there are things that are within your reach to change. As the old adage says: the best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago. The second best time to plant an oak tree is today.