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Last year, I recapped & planned my finance just before the holiday. This year, with only a few days left in November, I am reviewing how 2023 went already. It seems I am recapping my finances earlier and earlier every year. But unless I win big in Vegas this Christmas, my numbers should be pretty predictable for the rest of the year. I am also separating recap and planning this year as I went into more details on my recap. So here’s how we did this year.
My Income Sources
My income sources remain largely the same this year except for one minor change for jenthinks:
- salary as a senior accountant
- dividends from stocks
- partnership, ad & sales from jenthinks
- rental income from our investment property
I started a new job after my Asia vacation which came with a nice bump in salary. I went to work for another tech company as Senior Accountant after 3 years with my previous employer. Same as previous two years, my salary remains my largest source of income. The income from jenthinks has grown modestly which allowed us to achieve something I did not set up to achieve intentionally. I will address that in the next section.
My 2023 Financial Recap
Our increased income basically acted as a buffer against all the increased cost of living. Our mortgage was renewed in the Fall so that was the biggest increase as it went up by about 34%. Other fixed expenses like strata, insurance, property taxes went up but not as much. We definitely felt the increased food cost too but we largely did the same as what we have been doing for years. We are not big on fine dining so while our food bills went up, the impact was manageable. Other than our Asia trip earlier in the year, our other trips were in the US so we were definitely impacted by the strong USD as well. However, the impact was again manageable as we were only there for a short period of time.
The realistic savings goal (not underestimating income & overestimating expenses) I set was to put away at least 35% of our take-home pay. Well, thanks to our combined increased income and stable spendings (relatively to previous years), we put away just over the equivalent of my take-home pay from my salaried job as a Senior Accountant. By ‘putting away,’ I mean it either went to savings or investment. So we exceeded our savings goal this year.
Like I said earlier, this was not something we set out to do. I simply realized this fact when I was updating out net worth for November. This was likely our best year in terms of saving rate so far. We are both in a good spot in our career where we are paid reasonably well with growth opportunities on the horizon. Overall, I am happy with this achievment as it had not included the equities we have built in our properties.
In my plan last year, I said we were on going on two main trips only: 6 weeks in Asia in Spring and 1 week in San Diego in the Summer. I did say we might go on a quick weekend trip to the island but we actually went on two more (2nd one to happen in a month) week-long trip instead. We went to Seattle for a quick weekend stay too but my friend said that did not count (I agreed).
WestJet had really good prices for direct red-eye to Atlanta so we went for a week in the Fall. It was our first time in Atlanta (or that side of the US for that matter) and we had a really good time. The weather was amazingly warm when it was already getting chilly back home. Then, I decided to spend Christmas in Vegas for the first time. We have been to Vegas more than 10 times and I thought I was done with it few months ago. Guess who was wrong. Our friend is joining us too so it will definitely be a festive and fun trip.
For Asia, I budgeted $15,000 to $17,500 for 6 weeks. We ended up on the low end thanks to the best deal on flights Eric found. I budgeted $4,500 to $5,000 for San Diego and it also ended up on the low end. I booked the hotel and flight package on Costco Travel as soon as my friend told me her wedding date and prices climbed steadily up after I booked it. While the unused budget did not cover for the unplanned trips, it could have been worse. I will do a better job budgeting for 2024 knowing I have problems sitting still.
I was very boring this year.
I finally sold my Bitcoin ETF. I am unsure whether I sold at a loss or a profit but I am fine either way because my total investment was less than $500. I am just happy to get it off my portfolio because it was not giving.
In terms of purchase, I only bought a couple of blue chips (Telus, Fortis), VEQT and CASH.TO. I need access to some funds in the near future so I thought CASH.TO would be a good use of the reserved cash.
I finished Invisalign, paid for the permanent retainer ($600) and got Lasik done ($3,000 out of pocket, technically it was SmartSurfACE Laser Procedure). My surgery was in February and the recovery was actually a lot longer than I expected. I also suffer from worse dry eyes than before. However, my vision is now perfect. I still can’t say it changed my life for the better as others claimed. It is also pretty annoying to be using lubricating eye drops daily (from 2 drops a day to as many as 5 or 6 drops a day 9 months post-surgery). I have been taking eye vitamins too. So, financially, I am not sure the current state (eye drops, vitamins) is more beneficial over paying for daily contacts. However, I am aware that I suffered from dry eyes prior to surgery. I just never needed eye drops.
My hope is that my dry eyes will improve over time and maybe one day I can tell you it changed my life for the better too. Now I can only say it’s about the same before and after the surgery.
I got the sectional of my dream. I was actually shocked I finally committed. It was a two-year journey from the moment I fell in love with it in store to when it finally arrived in my home. It went up in price while I waited (surprise surprise) and I finally bought it when it was 20% off the new price. Then, it went down 10% further on Black Friday. With a bit of luck getting to the right person, customer service refunded me the difference (she said a store credit originally but refunded my CC instead). We also sold our old sofa a couple of weeks after the new one arrived). It was sold to a family who just moved to Canada and when she thanked me for lowering the price, I told her how thankful I was for her to move it out of my dining room.
We got a new bed and sold our old one too. We had the old one for several years and Eric did not like it from Day 1. He was probably the happiest when it was finally gone. We bought smaller items here and there for the house too but nothing else major.
It happened shortly after we returned from Asia. We bought a presale in an area we are very familiar with and physically close to (unlike our other properties). The area has been developing for several years now and more is yet to come. I got the idea when we were at the mall one day and visited the showhome nearby. After we found out more, I basically pulled out the Google Sheet where I stored all of our finances on the spot. The price was right and the area had a lot of potential.
Of course, I did way more calculation after we got home that night. Decisions like this always come with sacrafice as there is opportunity cost for everything. The most important thing is that Eric and I are aligned on what it meant for us. So, the rest was history. We paid the first two deposits already so only a small one remaining in 2024.
Eric’s Never-Ending Shopping List
I was right when I said Eric had a never-ending shopping list. He did and he 100% acted on it this year. He basically got a new wardrobe. He will probably tell you I did the same and more but he failed to realize we are not the same. When will he understand?