Monthly Money Reports

Income, Expenses & Goals Update – January 2018

Wow! Time flies when you are having fun! It’s already February! Here is my fifth Income, Expenses & Goals Update – January 2018:

January didn’t start very well with my rentals. One of the units had a burst pipe in the last few days of December and another tenant let me know they were moving out. You can check out the full story at The Frozen Pipe That Broke The Landlord’s Back! But the rest of the month has been uneventful. Still not update on my pending layoff and it is starting to really affect my mental health (no-no I am not going crazy!!! Just very frustrated with the entire process).

FI (Financial Independence) INCOME – $2,113

This is the income I will rely on once I finally reach Financial Independence (FI).

Dividend & Interest Income: Over $1,000 AGAIN!!!

I though December was amazing and didn’t expect January to be above $1,000 again, but it is! I forgot about an annual interest payment I get on a Canada Post Corporate Bond. Some of my stock purchases I started last March are finally paying off.

My dividend income is generated with 17% of my total Net Worth. I can’t invest my GRRSP (Group Registered Retirement Savings Plan) in dividend paying stocks (not an option thru work) and the rest of my Net Worth is in real estate.

Here are the stocks/ETF I received dividends from in January:
  • BCE
  • REI
  • CPG
  • ZAG
  • CJR.B
  • IPL
  • ZDV
  • FIE
  • GE
  • ZDI
  • GSK
My Stock “moves” this month:
  • Dividend stocks:
    • Increased my position in CJR.B (Corus Entertainment). Stock tanked since but I am not overly worried yet. Well since last week everything tanked anyway!
    • Purchased shares of BPY.UN (Brookfield Property Partners).
  • Growth/opportunity stocks:
    • My last move was in November when I  bought GE and I am feeling the pain!

  I have a few index funds but most of my portfolio is individual stocks (it is just a preference).

Rental Income

Background: I have three rental units, all condos. I wanted to invest in rental properties but I wasn’t ready to take on the full the risk of home ownership on my own, so I opted for the condo option. It is probably not the most cost-effective option but it is a personal choice and it works for me. Condo fees are high but so far I have taken full advantage of being a condo owner (new doors, windows). My insurance is also lower due to the condo status. My goal was not to create additional income while I was still working but to build up equity and to sell all units when I reach 55. Being a landlord can be stressful and I am not sure I will want the extra headaches when I retire.

  • Property tax payments started again in January. I will need to look into it as it looks like the amount is slightly less than last year, and we all know property taxes never go down!!! The installments go from January to October to cover the full year taxes. I find it easier to manage my cash flow that way.
  • Unit #2: After the basement was flooded in December, the insurance and condo corp. wasted spent time arguing about responsibilities. Work finally started last week and should be done by the end of this week. My deductible is $1,000 but I haven’t paid anything yet!
  • Unit #3: Tenants gave me their notice last month but they changed their mind several times since! They are now staying until April 1st and will let me know what they plan to do by March 1st. I was considering selling the place and buying a different one, we will see. This unit was supposed to be a flip originally but I kept it.

I estimate the time spent on rental this month to be around 6 hours; between the calls and emails to the contractor and the adjuster, the visits to the townhouse, meeting at the carpet store, shopping for new appliances and managing the ad process to find new tenants (before I knew they may stay).

I decided to try to keep track of my time on the rentals after reading one of Drew’s “Landlord Report” at Guyonfire, where he calculates is hourly rate as a landlord. I like the idea. You should go check out his latest report: The Landlord Report January 2018.

Side Hustle Income:

  • Nothing new on the blogging income, I am still working on increasing traffic and it is quite challenging. But I did sign up for Steve’s free course on How to start your own money blog.
  • Once again, there were a few opportunities for the mystery shopping gig I registered for in October but they didn’t pay more than $20/visit. Didn’t seem worth it.
  • One of my daughters managed (again) to net a profit on her University books! $200! She is really good at this. I sold one of the many calculators we had in the house for $35. I still have a few items listed but not much interest so far, I may have to drop the prices. Find out how to declutter and make money!

Side Hustles are great and could allow you to retire much earlier. Check out my post Get a side hustle and retire earlier if you are looking for side hustles ideas.

CPP (Canada Pension Plan) Survivor Benefit:

This is an amount I will receive until I start receiving my own CPP (any time after I turn 60).

EXPENSES – $2,971

I started keeping track of my expenses in detail in October 2017 so I could figure out how much I would need once my kids move out and I am retired. I am only interested in the minimum amount needed for now while keeping my current lifestyle. The goal is for my FI ratio to reach 100% without kids’ related expenses. With my pending layoff, I am more motivated to find out how much I will really need to work next year! (You can read all about it at Could getting laid off be the right opportunity for me to retire earlier?).

Tip: Update your spreadsheets regularly otherwise it becomes overwhelming. I try to do it once a week.

Categories from Household to Cell phones are consistent each month so I will stop commenting unless something changes. You can refer to the last post with all the details December 2017 Expenses.

  • Kids (Main) :
    • I owed a third payment for my son’s Track & Field Program $340! It’s expensive but still worth the money.
    • Spend $40 for one of my daughter’s haircut. I was in a generous mood so I also paid for my oldest daughter’s driver’s license renewal ($63). Both were thrilled about it because they didn’t expect it!
  • Health: Expenses covered by my current work health plan that won’t be covered once retired.
  • Other (Main):
    • $63 to get three pair of shoes/boots repaired. They should last me for another few years and they look like new.
    • $67 for TurboTax. I can finally start working on my taxes
    • $38 for Lebanese food take-out the day it took me 2 hours in traffic to get home!

Summary – FI ratio is 99% this month!

  • Core expenses (post kids): $2,134
  • FI Income $2,113
  • FI ratio – 99%.
  • Based on current spending – with kids, my FI ratio is 71%. This means that once I am unemployed retired, I would only need to make up for $838 this month.

I didn’t expect to reach 99% FI ratio this month! I should probably account for the $1,000 deductible on the insurance claim but I may not have to pay it until March so I will wait. The spring will be tougher on the rental income front if my tenants move out. Some of my annual expenses such as car insurance only get recorded in April so monthly FI is not a good reflection of my needs at this point. Year to date numbers will be more valuable.

GOALSGoals 2018


  • Reduce Grocery bill by 30% or $200/week (the equivalent of $865 a month for a family of five – all grown kids). I am slowly making progress. Watch for my upcoming post on my progress and check out the last one: My December Grocery Challenge Was A Fail.
  • Increase my dividend to $12,000: January was way ahead of what I planned.
  • Increase my savings to 60% of all income so I can prepare myself better for next year when I no longer get a regular paycheck. I am making progress on that front too but with the kids it is harder to reach that goal.


  • Make it to One year. I know it doesn’t seem like much but I have considered packing it in a few times already. Blogging is fun but it is very time-consuming and can be a lot of “work”. I want to make it to one year at least! Check out my post on what a job posting for a blogger would look like: Personal Finance Bloggers Wanted!
  • Increase traffic by 20% every month. I reached that goal with flying colors this month but I started off with very little traffic. I think going forward it will be harder.
  • Reach 1,000 twitter: As of a few days ago, I was just under 250. Some bloggers seem to be adding followers very quickly. I guess I am not doing it right but I am still happy with that number.
  • Look into Tailwind: I looked into it yesterday and I am so confused! I think I need to find a good tutoring video. I am just not getting it!


  • Cut back on Sweets: FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! I suck at this, I just love chocolate too much:( I will keep trying. Today I was going to stay away from junk and somebody brought chocolate cake to work! Arghhhh
  • 8,000 steps. Got my new Fitbit Flex 2 and so far love it. But my average daily steps are only 5,200. Nothing to brag about. I have just been VERY lazy.


A new goal purely based on how I feel. No SMART goal here! Totally subjective. I want to enjoy every single day and not let s**t get in the way! This month , I didn’t do that well, I allowed our office shut down and the cold weather to get to me too many times. How I feel is all about attitude and, apparently, I need to start working on mine! Stay positive no matter what!

How about you, how did you do in January? Do the winter months get you a little down?

30 thoughts on “Income, Expenses & Goals Update – January 2018

  1. Great stats for January! And way to cut your grocery bill!

    Thanks for sharing all your tenant/landlord experiences. Rental properties is something that we’ve considered, but, never took the plunge investing in them yet. At this stage in my life – I don’t want this added stress. Will just focus on the blog for now!

    We try and let the winter months not get us down; it’s easy to stay up beat when you keep looking at the income and expense goals of other bloggers who are rocking it! Congrats!

    1. Thanks Mrs. DS!
      Glad you like the small summary on rentals. I have to admit I actually like it most of the time, but it would be easier if I didn’t have a full time job!

  2. This month wasn’t my best on the happiness meter either…winter blues and the blogging slog rolled into a snowball – and I’m not talking about the good personal-finance “debt snowball.” Nope, just a big fat crushing snowball that made me want to crawl under a duvet! Oh well, I think Spring is around the corner 🙂

  3. Very comprehensive summary Caroline. On the blogging front…will be interested to see how your course goes. Can you write a post about it, if appropriate? Always looking to learn how to grow like you. Regarding Pinterest and Tailwind. I really struggled with Tailwind during the free trial. I tried the BoardBooster free trial and like it better. I do spend $5 a month for 500 automated pins. It’s nice, cause you set it up and forget it. Create new pins for your new posts and get them into your feed is all you do. I spend little time now on Pinterest, yet my followers are growing consistently and I’m getting more repins. It accounts for about 10% of my page views with very little effort on my part. Twitter drives about 15% of my traffic. Like you, not sure if I’m using it correctly. I think Pinterest is a long term building process while twitter is more instant gratification in terms of page views. Bye. Tom

    1. I am being honest when I say I don’t understand Pinterest! I tried to schedule pins yesterday and none of it made sense:(
      I can keep you posted on the course, thru post or email depending on my review. So far one email received and always includes several affiliate links:(
      I committed to not spending money on the blog in the first year (beside the set up) so we will see how far that will get me.

  4. Nice dividend income, Caroline. I hope your rental unit #3 works well after the current tenant moves out in April.

    The first half of January was very cold in central Ohio. With the snow and ice, it’s hard walking outside, and I had to use the treadmill at home. I’m ready for the spring, and will spend more time outdoors.

  5. Thanks for candidly sharing your income, expenses, and goals, Caroline! I seriously love these type of posts. If I had more time, I would try to document everything (net worth, expenses, dividends, goals, blog numbers etc). I need to MAKE more time lol. Congrats on cracking 4 digits in dividend income in 1 month again! It looks like you’re well on your way to FI. You’ve got some quality positions in your portfolio too! I’m waiting for one final dividend payment from my employer position…I can’t wait to share my next dividend report. Keep it up!

  6. Over a $1000 in dividends nice ! I have been coasting this year and haven’t accomplished any goals but now I am back from holidays I will try to get more motivated. You always seem to have lofty goals and complete them, good work !

  7. Lol I was thinking of starting tailwind but I’m scared bc idk how it works… I was talking to mrs. DS about it. More money into blogging!! I hope it works.

  8. And to think you wanted to wager a little bet with me! No way I can do $12K in dividends a year!! Haha 🙂

    Thanks for sharing these detailed reports, this must have taken a long time to write up!

    That’s amazing you have hit 99% FI ratio!

    Yeah I don’t know how people add a lot of twitter followers either- I think it’s a strategy of following one person and then waiting for them to follow back?

    1. I don’t know if I can do $12K either:)
      It does take a little longer if I don’t keep up with my spreadsheet but otherwise not that much. The less I spend the easier it is! And I do this for myself regardless so sharing doesn’t take much time.
      So many strategies out there for all that social media stuff!

  9. I love sweets especially M&Ms peanuts, I used to eat a bag almost every week. But last year, I made the a goal to cut down on it because eating so many is really bad. So I just cut the habit of getting a bag of M&Ms all the time and it worked. I probably ate 5 bags the whole year. Unfortunately I’m off to a bad start this year, I already ate one bag yesterday..ehhh!!
    Great detailed report, thanks for sharing it to us Caroline!

  10. Love the detail here, I feel like you didn’t hold back at all with this post.

    All the best with those goals!

  11. Local store has chocolate on special. LOL good job especially on dividends. off month dividends of over 1000.00 is always awesome. keep it up

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