Money, Monthly Money Reports

Win, Win, Lose! March 2018 – Income, Expenses And Goals

I had a GREAT month … except for blogging! And my expenses were high too, but you can’t have it all I guess! What am I the most excited about this month? NO, NOT MONEY! My steps!!! I averaged 11,226/steps per day this month!  Staying healthy and fit is part of my Financial Freedom plan too. I also had my best monthly dividend income EVER. Win, Win, Lose – March 2018 Income, Expenses and Goals.

I am still waiting for my layoff notice and trying to keep it together. My positive spin on it:

For every week I don’t know, it’s an extra week’s pay.

Related posts:

FI INCOME -$2,315

Monthly FI (Financial Independence) income:

 Dividend & Interest Income: $1,239

My highest monthly dividend income ever! An increase of 203% over last year’s monthly dividend income!

Here are the stocks/ETFs I received dividends from in March:

Monthly:
  • REI.UN – RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust
  • CPG – Crescent Point
  • ZAG – BMO Aggregate Bond ETF
  • CJR.B* – Corus Entertainment Inc.
  • IPL – Inter Pipeline Ltd.
  • ZDV – BMO Canadian Dividend ETF
  • FIE – iShares Canadian Fncl Mthly Inc ETF
  • ZDI – BMO International Dividend ETF
Quarterly:
  • BEP.UN – Brookfield Renewable Partners
  • BPY.UN – Brookfield Property Partners
  • ENB – Enbridge Inc.
  • MFC – Manulife Financial Corporation
  • GM – General Motors Company
  • PFE – Pfizer Inc.
  • KHC – The Kraft Heinz Company

*CJR.B? Corus Entertainment reached another new low this month but I didn’t sell yet. Do you have any CJR.B stock? Did you sell this month?

Rental Income

Rental income from my three rental units, all condos. You can read more info on my units here.

  • Unit #1: Nothing to report this month.
  • Unit #2: Tenant is moving out by the end of the summer but didn’t give me a final date yet. I am considering selling this unit and buying a triplex instead. I added the $200 back in rent income from last month since the insurance paid me back.
  • Unit #3: Tenants have not returned their lease yet but they are planning to stay for one more year. I increased their rent by $20 in accordance with the maximum % allowed this year.

I estimate the time spent on rentals this month to be around 1 hour overall. The main task was to update and send the lease for unit #3.

$2,044 for 1 hour of work! 

Side Hustle Income:

  • $15 from selling a Toronto Blue Jays’ hat my daughter didn’t want!
  • The Mystery shopping jobs were all $10-$20 so I didn’t sign up for any but I keep checking.
  • I am looking for dog walking gigs since I walk my dog anyway but haven’t found anything in my neighbourhood yet.

Side Hustles are great and can 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 – $3,817

I started keeping track of my expenses in detail in October 2017 so I could figure out how much I would need once retired. But with my pending layoff, I now want to know how much we spend in detail so I can anticipate our needs for next year, when I am no longer working and still have kids in school.

Tip: Update your spreadsheets regularly!


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

Related Page: Monthly Money Reports 

Household:

  • I reviewed our expenses for last year and we did great at saving in many areas such as groceries, water, hydro and gas. Based on the updated numbers, I was able to reduce our monthly estimates going forward and still leave a little cushion for unexpected expenses.

Related post: 10 Easy And Quick Ways To Save Money

Kids :

  • Fees for my son’s Track & Field program were due AGAIN! $425. I still have one more payment of $100 to make before June.
  • Reimbursed my oldest daughter for one of her university book  and paid for her graduation pictures.

Related post: Why I Don’t Pay For My Kids’ Tuition

Other :

An expensive month!

  • $284 for one day skiing at Mont-Tremblant for my son and I. It was totally worth it but it does add up!
  • We did Take-out twice – $70 (Sorry no pics! But it was really good)
  • I went for a massage and really enjoyed it. I plan to keep going once in a while when I am retired laid off (part of my FI plan!) so I better make sure it is included in my future expenses – $85.
  • Driver’s licence renewal, it comes around every 5 years and cost $90. No way to avoid it.
  • Finally went to see an employment lawyer so I am ready when my company eventually gives me my layoff notice. Cost? $316.40 for 50 minutes!!! I can’t even say it was worth it !
  • Made the mistake to walk into the mall…spend $104 on me again and didn’t need anything…shame on me!  Rule #1. Don’t go shopping unless you NEED something.

Summary – FI ratio is 58% YTD including kids expenses.


GOALS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

MONEY:

  • Reduce Grocery bill by 30% or $200/week. Great progress this month! Report will be out soon, in the meantime check out my previous Monthly Grocery Reports.
  • Increase my dividend to $12,000. Right on target with 26% of dividend income for the first quarter.
  • Finally met my goal to save 60% of all income.

BLOG:

It has been harder to stay motivated lately. I lost interest in Pinterest so haven’t done very much there. I try to keep up with Twitter but I know I am not tweeting enough. My Facebook account is set up but not sure what to do next so didn’t do anything. I try to comment on other blogger’s posts but it is very time-consuming so I am not always able to do it as much as I would like. Reddit was fun for a couple of weeks and then I dropped the ball there too!

Probably due to all the above factors, my traffic dropped 34% compared to last month. The Rockstar Finance feature last month gave me quite a boost and I expected a drop this month, but really thought I would keep some of the viewers…I DIDN’T!  It is a very brutal blogging world out there!!! I am still hoping to make it to one year, as long as I still enjoy it.

Related page: Best Blogging Tips

HEALTH

  • Cut back on Sweets: I did a little better in this area…and then it was Easter!
  • My average daily steps were 11,226 in March compare to last month at 7,382! The weather makes a big difference, I have been out a LOT more…and blogging less! It’s going to be tough to do better next month.

How about you, how did you do in March? How was your passive income? With the nice weather, did you walk more steps too?


A special THANK YOU to the following bloggers for featuring some of my posts in March:

31 thoughts on “Win, Win, Lose! March 2018 – Income, Expenses And Goals

  1. Looks like a pretty good month overall…
    Just curious – what industry are you in that is shutting down operations in Canada? You seem to have set yourself up pretty well with the dividend income & rental properties so that if/when you do get laid off you should be in a pretty good position. Best of luck.

    1. Hi Jordan, thanks for stopping by:)
      We are in Research & Engineering. The company is still going to pursue business in Canada, they just don’t need Canadians anymore:(
      I am in a pretty good position but I am not ready to stop working:)

  2. Awesome job on the steps! And the income & expenses too. Sorry to hear, but not surprised, about the blogging ups and downs. It happens. I hope you keep enjoying it and soon see many more up days.

    1. Thanks Amy, I was pretty proud of myself considering I work in an office from 7:30 to 5ish!
      Blogging is tough but so far it is still fun, I just wish I had more time to work on it.

  3. Hi Caroline, A few thoughts on blogging for your consideration….

    Facebook. I see you are now my first and only face book friend! It’s tough being so popular. 🙂 Actually, what I have learned (which isn’t much), for a blog you are supposed to set up a business page. Your personal page is for friends. People are supposed to follow/like your business page. This is where you put your posts and other comments. I still have a lot to learn there.

    I’m with you on the whole social media and blog networking thing. It’s such a time suck. Although social media is a necessary part of blogging, the more I read about it, highly trafficked blogs get most of their traffic through google search. Social media will account for less than 25% of traffic.

    I have enjoyed learning about and implementing SEO techniques the last month. It’s helped me focus my thoughts around writing and content. I am pulling back a bit on blog networking and social media. If it’s not enjoyable, it’s not worth it.

    There are days, like you, where I say blogging is a ridiculous waste of time. There are days when I step back and think long term about it (2-3 years) that I believe it can be a fulfilling activity that brings in a little income.

    For now, I’m still in it for year then going to re-evaluate.

    Tom

    1. Thanks for being my Facebook friend Tom:) After reading your comment, I went back to Facebook and created a page! Now I will have to read up on what to do next:)
      I use Yoast SEO plugin and thought it would do all the work for me. I guess it doesn’t. Maybe you can write a post on SEO improvement techniques? I find the entire topic very confusing so far.
      And just like you, whenever I get overwhelmed with blogging, I take a step back and think it would be pretty cool to have a “successful” blog once I am semi-retired, maybe even bring a little extra income but mostly to keep busy and interact with like minded people:)
      Still in for a year, with you… my only FB friend:)

      1. Hey Caroline,

        In my experience, the Facebook page click-through rate is about .5-1%. I have a Facebook page with 212 followers, and get around 0-2 clicks every time I post a new article there.

        I still don’t know what to make of it. It’s hard to grow the following organically, and my results with Facebook ads are that each follower costs around $1 in ad spend. And the follower’s I’ve gotten through advertising are not engaged (no comments, etc).

        So far, not very encouraged. Though, I know Millennial Money Man has had amazing results with Facebook, so it’s probably a matter of strategy.

        Cheers,
        Miguel

  4. It sounds like an excellent month over there! The RSF traffic can be fickle, it’s OK! It’s like a nice present bonus but you should still do the blog marketing work? (Actually I don’t know, I’m not sure where my traffic comes from half the time on a regular day.) SEO is something you can look into. Pinterest….it’s not your or mine’s style I don’t think. 60% of your income saved?! = Baller.

    1. Excellent month indeed!:)
      The RSF bonus was great but it makes the rest of the traffic look really bad. And then you wonder…are the rest of my posts so bad nobody wants to come back!!!

  5. Congrats on the steps! That’s a great achievement. I often fret over blog traffic too, but it’s somewhat useless. I take what I can get.

  6. Hey Caroline, looks like a cool month, a mix of some winners and some less good. On the passive income side you are doing well, I’ve never thought to track passive income, mainly as I’ve structured investments to reduce tax rather than increase income.

    I agree social media can be a massive time suck, and I’m really wavering on the pinterest, as the quality from there sucks. Ultimately I only want readers who are interested, not those that clicked on a pretty picture. So I’m not that focussed on blog stats, my blog is ultimately a creative outlet for me, not a commercial endeavor.

    1. Hi Ms Zi You, I have been tracking it more closely in the last year, before that it was a little chaotic! I restructured my entire portfolio to increase dividend while still trying to get growth and minimize tax impact. So far it looks like it is working:)
      So far blogging has also been a creative outlet for me but I would love to be able to help others with my limited experience.

  7. Look like you had a good month Caroline!!
    I have a pinterest account myself and was really active on there for like a week but it’s really time consuming to try to join groups and create pins. I haven’t really been active since. Twitter is my favorite one, it’s really easy to communicate with the other PF bloggers and easy to share your posts.
    Wow, $90 for a driver license renewal!! That’s really a high amount. Mines is up for renewal too later this year, I have to check how much is the fee here in California.

    1. Hi Kris, the $90 is for five years for the actual licence then I still have to pay the annual sticker fee!
      I try with Pinterest once in a while but I am not consistent. I think if you have Tailwind, it takes care of most of it for you!
      Twitter seems to be the easiest to do so far and so easy to communicate with others:)

    1. LOL, still no official notice! It’s actually really weird at this point. Our lease is up by the end of the year and the last employees are working until December but after that…

        1. It’s maddening because it really feels like they don’t care at all. We have all worked there for so long , the least they could do is give us our notice! But yes I am lucky I am financially secure:)

  8. Congrats on your progress(es)! Thanks for the daily steps reminder – I had one for the year, but it fell off my radar as soon as I conceived it. Now, I get to think about it again and reevaluate. As for the blogging part of things, it does sometime feel like it’s sucking the very life out of you. Traffic up today and then very little the next day…SEO. social media, networking…and many more. it can be tough! That said, I feel if one keeps at it (and enjoys it), the rewards will come with time.

    1. Hi Enoch, I think right now the key is to keep enjoying it:) I also should figure out more about the SEO stuff!
      I was really proud of my steps but now I am feeling a lot of pressure for April!

  9. Great job Caroline, you are hitting it out of the ballpark with your dividend income!! Fantastic!

    You keep making rental properties seem very attractive 😉

    Do you have a extended benefits package or will you be able to contribute to one during when you are FI and not working? Just wondering as maybe your massage therapy can be covered there? Are all your children done their braces?

    At least you got a RSF!! That’s awesome, I think it’s every blogger’s dream. But yeah, blogging is exhausting. I was carefully crafting up a post when I heard the boiling and remembered that my pumped milk was on the stove HAHA. EF*#IN blogging!!! So much sacrifice, resulting in burnt milk!

    1. Haha, was it the frozen pipe? Not always easy to own rentals! But yes once you add in the equity increase, it is a pretty sweet deal, even without the 1% rule!
      Hoping to extend my coverage for a bit but we are limited by the carrier’s rules. And my plan never included braces so had to pay for the three of them $15,000!!! I love my kids, I love my kids!
      Your tweet about your milk was cute:) It’s precious stuff, you should be careful.

  10. PS love the Easter ears cartoon.

    I ate 4 pieces of salted caramel Purdy’s squares, and two Coconut carmel pieces from a box of chocolates from Hawaii (not my trip as that would have been gone a long time ago, my sister gave it to me)… today alone.

  11. Caroline,

    Your rental was a definitely win. $2,044/hour, that pay rate is outstanding! It’s amazing you walked 11,226 steps daily in March. Great job. Keep it up. I like your positive attitude about the the job uncertainty. Can’t beat it? Just ride with it. Have a great spring.

    – Helen

  12. I think a lot of people give up on blogging because it’s just so hard if you don’t really enjoy it! Few bloggers actually strike it rich, and most people give up after a year or two.

  13. Hey Caroline.

    Wow fantastic month! Go Corus… haha Great dividends. I’m curious what account you hold brookfield property and zdi in? I get mixed info on the brookfields but I hold brookfield renewable in a tfsa with no withholding taxes.

    AS for your rentals, that is just sweet. Great income from that in one hour. That will probably be my next source of passive income, got the goal to get something before 2021.

    I created a business facebook page and keep see people come and go but only got 3 followers. I can see they see the posts and i get some clicks coming in but no conversation from facebook. I really enjoy twitter though. I feel its a great medium for financial blogging.

    Traffic comes and go’s. Ultimately that’s what most bloggers want (myself included) just need to keep pumping out content and with time will get a nice following. Atleast it seems that way from others.. Here’s hoping!

    Haha keep it up, nice month
    Cheers

    1. Hi Rob,
      So glad Corus made a come back! Hope it keeps going:)
      I usually hold all my income trust investment in my TFSA and international and US in my RRSP.

      Rentals can be a nightmare but money wise I still think they are a great investment. I wish I did it much earlier.

      I finally created a Facebook page but really not sure what to do next! Twitter seems to be much easier so far:)

      Thanks for stopping by. Cheers

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