Life Update: January 2021
Welcome to the New Year friends and family! I hope you're all smashing your goals and New Years resolutions.
Our January has been pretty average really. The province of Ontario has been in lockdown since Boxing Day so that really limits the activities we can do. Technically you're only allowed to leave your house for "essentials", which includes groceries, medical supplies and going to work (for some people). What is good though, is that the liquor store is classed as an essential service so we can still go out to buy beer. Winning!
We didn't do too much to celebrate New Years this time around. We had a few beers at home, played some card games and rang in the New Year with a glass of champagne and a FaceTime call with Gabby and Aric. Thank the lord for technology.
The kids had a two week break from school over the Christmas period and resumed on January 4th - but not in the normal way. The schools were ordered to be closed as part of the lockdown, so instead of attending school in person each day, the kids had online learning from 8:50am to around 3pm each day. The school supplied the kids with their own chromebooks for the online learning period.
For the most part, the online learning was okay but it did require either Allanah or myself to help the kids through some exercises. Callum was pretty much set and forget and since Addi is only in grade 2 we needed to spend a bit more time with her to complete her tasks.
We had two weeks of online learning before the kids returned back to school in person on the 18th of January. They sure were excited to get back and see their friends instead of being stuck at home with Mum and Dad everyday.
Allanah and I both have the ability to work from home for a large portion of our roles so the lockdown doesn't really affect us too much. We'd take turns in assisting the kids and we're still able to complete our work tasks throughout the day. Given that a lot of people don't have this option, we think ourselves quite lucky to be able to do this.
It wasn't all doom and gloom throughout the month though. We bought a few "get us through lockdown" items from the World Wide Web. Addison's request was to learn how to hula hoop and my goal has been to learn how to solve a 3x3 Rubik's cube. Callum already had the Rubik's cube but we purchased a few other items along with the hula hoop, including a bullet journal for Allanah. She's got some pretty cool designs in it already.
Now back to the hula hoop. You know those "fail" memes that you see, where they compare actual vs expectation and the actual does not look anything like the expectation? Well that was our hula hoop. The box it arrived in had a slogan that said "great for stomach obesity" and the hula hoop had been photoshopped onto a models body. The instructions on the box were in very broken English. My guess is that the original language on the box was in Chinese and it was put through a rough google translate. Quite entertaining to be honest.
But alas, the hula hoop was still a hoop so we proceeded to take turns to find out who could and couldn't hula like a pro. You would never have guessed who the champion was. My money would have been on Allanah or Addison to win, but no, that was not the case.
Turns out that Callum is the master hooper and he does it with ease. He barely moves his hips but the hoop manages to keep spinning for well over 2 minutes. I decided to give it a crack as well and low and behold I can hula hoop too. Who would have thought? Callum and dad, hula hoop champions of the house.
Allanah was actually the worst at our hooping shenanigans, with Addison only a touch in front of her. We've all practiced quite a bit since then and now Addison holds the record for the longest hooping and Allanah can spin it for well over a minute. A family full of athletes!
Addi has also been keeping up with her girl guides activities remotely. She had a zoom call with all her teammates and completed the tasks for that period. She made a tower structure out of toothpicks and mini-marshmallows and a boat made out of foil (not pictured) that held $35 worth of coins before it sank!
January was a good month for our finances and we shuttled away 55% of our income to savings. In my position at work I am eligible for RSUs, which are Restricted Stock Units, and this forms part of the company's Long Term Incentive Plan. You can think of this as similar to a bonus. I get paid a portion of what I'm eligible for in January, so this boosts up the income for the month and therefore increases how much we can save. We probably could have saved a bit more, maybe around 75%, but I left quite a bit in our checking account for a cash buffer.
We did go over budget in a few categories though, with the main one being "shopping". The purchase of the quarantine supplies was unplanned (but much needed) and silly old me forgot to plan for my birthday present expense which we had to pay for in January.
Aaaand we went over budget on alcohol. There, I said it. Hey, if you had 2 weeks of online learning with the kids while working from home you'd increase your alcohol consumption too. We usually budget about $200 per month for this category but we spent a bit over $300. We shan't be judged!
Good news is we're saving on eating out - because, well, we don't have a choice - and making more meals at home. This does bump up the grocery budget a bit but Allanah does a fantastic job at throw together meals from random stuff in the fridge and pantry to minimize food wastage.
NET WORTH UPDATE
Our net worth saw an increase of $27k in January. You bloody ripper! We are now at $384k which we're pretty pumped about. Nearly at the $400k mark!
The big jump was mainly driven from my RSU payment and we're holding quite of bit of cash at the moment. My plan for the year is to max out my RRSP contribution and start investing through a TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account).
I have about $40k of contribution room for TFSA and you contribute post-tax dollars and your money grows tax free. I will use this account to invest into index funds and not hold cash. If we max out both of those accounts I will throw any extra cash into a taxable investment account.
So overall it was a good month for us, and we're happy to see our numbers continually go up. If you have any questions, as usual please let me know and I'll do my best to give you an answer.
Blake - FIRE with a family