Year-End 2019 Recap

The end of the year and the end of the decade can be exciting times.  The next year and decade hold so much promise.  But before looking ahead too much I wanted to take some time to reflect on the past year with this 2019 recap.

Related Post – Decade in Review 2010-2019

Money is not our sole focus.  We continuously strive to maintain a financial freedom mindset.  Because of this, my year-end review will include reflections on my personal life, travel, real estate investing and of course our personal finances.

Personal Life 2019 Recap

After being on maternity leave for 8 months I went back to work.  Thankfully it was only for a month before having 2 months off for the summer.  It was a nice adjustment going back to work after maternity leave, but I don’t think it prepared for me returning full time at the start of the school year.

One of the reasons I was also so tired was that after years of thinking about it, I launched this blog in July of this year. Not a decision that I regret, one that just added a bit to my workload.  

The most tired I have ever been in my life was returning to work at the beginning of the school year.  Being a working mom is no joke.  I don’t think that I adjusted to the new routine until Thanksgiving.  

Now more than ever I am very grateful to be a teacher because of all of the intermittent time off throughout the year.

Related Post – Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave

A positive of returning to work is I started working out again.  I am very lucky to have a fitness center at work.  Because my little one is always up at the crack of dawn anyway, I would go into work early to work out.  This was only possible because we were sharing childcare with our family.

Home front

On the home front, 2019 was the year we decided to look for a new home.  Although not the most frugal decision, it was the right decision for our family

We bought during a buyer’s market, meaning we got a great deal on a home that will last us for decades to come.  We did some renovations and have loved the place from the moment we moved in.

Because we bought in a buyer’s market it wasn’t the best time to sell so we converted our home into a rental property and added it to our portfolio.  

In order to optimize this decision, we spent the summer living in someone else’s house while our previous home was rented out and we waited for our new home to be ready.

Travel 2019 Recap

Once again this year our international travel was limited due to the Zika virus.  Yes, there are a lot of countries that are Zika free but none that are a short (ish) flight for us that are reasonably inexpensive to visit.  

And I have no intention of planning my complete vacation out in advance.  We have always been seat of our pants travelers and I don’t anticipate this changing any time soon. So traveling to popular tourist destinations during high season is out.

All that being said, we did manage to do some traveling this year.  We spent 2 weeks out in Vancouver.  Our little one loved hanging out at the beach every day.  We have family there that are gracious enough to let us stay with them so no hotel costs!  And Vancouver is super walkable from where hubby’s uncle lives.

In August we flew out to Ottawa and spent 3 weeks out there visiting family.  My sister got married this summer in Ottawa and it was all hands on deck in preparation for the big day.  All and all it was a beautiful day and I wish her and her husband many years of happiness together.

Staying with family and friends all summer solidified our need to travel independently at least annually.  We work very hard at our jobs most of the year.  The month or so of vacation time that we have together is always a much needed mental reset.

Real Estate 2019 Recap

In 2018 we acquired our 8th rental property and decided that we (especially I) did not want any more rentals for the foreseeable future. 

That being said, this year was a buyer’s market for real estate where we live.  Because of this, we decided to casually look for a new home.  

With a growing family, we knew that our home wasn’t the most functional. When my in-laws came to visit and help with childcare they were sleeping on an air mattress in the basement. 

Not cool.

As mentioned previously, we converted our previous home to a rental property bringing our portfolio up to 9 rental properties. Somehow hubby bamboozled me into our ninth rental property.  Thankfully we have great tenants living there and besides a few minor things, it has been pretty hands-off for us.

Once the market turns around we may look to offload this property and deploy the equity in it elsewhere.

Personal Finances 2019 Recap

I’m on the fence about sharing specific numbers for our net worth, but hubby thinks I should as it may be useful to you the reader.  As a compromise, I am going to share the breakdown in percentages of each category and the total net worth number.

Year-End 2019 recap. Net worth asset class breakdown #networth #yearend #handfulofthoughts
2019 Year-End Net Worth Asset Class Breakdown

Principal Residence

Overall, our principal residence saw a 3.14% decline in 2019.  This is in part due to us moving and now having a mortgage again.  As we continue to attack that mortgage I expect that number to become positive in no time.

Real Estate Investments

Our real estate investments saw an 18.53% increase over last year.  Converting our previous home into a rental helped with this number. We are also now benefitting from 9 mortgage payments paid by tenants every month.

Earlier this year I took some time to renegotiate a few of our adjustable rate mortgages.  Going forward there will be more of those payments going towards principal pay down every month.


We have a mix of RRSP’s, we each have individual RRSP accounts that are actively managed (I know the horror!). I also have a spousal RRSP that is lumped in with those actively managed accounts.

Related Post – A Complete Guide to Your RRSP

Hubby has a self-directed RRSP account through Questrade in which we invest solely in low-cost ETF’s.

On average our RRSP’s increased by 13.98% this year.  This is no surprise with how well the markets did this year.


Hubby’s TFSA is invested in private equity, in some companies, a mortgage investment corporation (MIC), and a real estate opportunity trust (REOT).  We are having happy with the consistent returns that we get from these investments. 

In 2019 they increased by 6.77%. Not that impressive when you compare it to market averages for last year.  But these investments have been consistent with their returns even in a down market.

Work Pensions

Hubby has a defined contribution pension through his work.  His company has a sizeable match and we make sure to contribute in order to get the maximum company match. Throughout the whole year, hubby’s pension increased by 30.37% which also includes his and the company’s contributions.

I have a defined benefit pension through my work.  It consistently increases every year but unfortunately, I do not have appropriate numbers from last year.  Therefore, I do not have an exact number on the increase for my pension in 2019.  Onward and upward.


Our other category includes some jewelry and our vehicles.  I know that most people do not include their vehicles in their net worth calculation, but I have a vintage truck that is actually appreciating in value.  It is an asset that could (but never will be) sold for a profit.

Overall our other category decreased by 12.66% this year due to overall depreciation on everything else.

2019 Net Worth

Overall the result was an increase in our net worth by 19.28%.  We ended 2019 with a net worth just north of $1,423,000.

It took us 8 years to acquire our first million dollars of net worth and we are well on pace to beat that time frame with the next million.

Net Worth Notes

Our cash holdings stay consistent year over year so I have not included them in this breakdown. We do not hold a lot of cash except for in our real estate contingency account.

We do not include our RESP in our net worth statement as that is technically our daughter’s money, not ours.  Our goal is to make the maximum RESP contribution to receive the full Canadian Education Savings Grant.

You will also see that I currently do not have any money invested in my TFSA.  That is not 100% accurate.  Currently, the money in my TFSA (a nominal amount) is set aside for my daughter as well. 

We have decided to save any money she receives as gifts.  After a lot of research, we have yet to find somewhere where we can invest in a custodial account for her.  Our compromise is to use my TFSA (because we were not using it previously) to invest her money in the market.  This money can grow tax-free.  

When she reaches an age where she needs the money or can invest on her own we can withdraw it without penalty.  I can also recontribute to my TFSA the full limit the following year.  

If anyone else has a different solution they are doing with their little one, please let me know in the comments below.

The next year holds so much promise.  But before looking ahead too much I wanted to take some time to reflect on the past year with this 2019 recap. #handfulofthoughts #yearend #2019 #yearendreflection

Final Thoughts

Once again I am astounded by the progress that we have made over the past year.  2019 was a very busy year for us on the personal front and I’m hoping that 2020 is a bit calmer.

We are planning on taking a family trip in the summer of 2020 but have yet to decide where we want to go.

As always I hope that our investments and rental properties just continue to plug along.  We are buy-and-hold investors in all aspects and just hope for boring consistent returns.

Now that I have taken some time to reflect on the past with this 2019 recap, I wish you all a healthy and prosperous 2020.

What were the big takeaways in your 2019 recap?

8 thoughts on “Year-End 2019 Recap”

  1. Really enjoyed your re-cap Maria! Sounds like you and your hubby made excellent progress this year.

    Like you, we have also adopted the strategy for investing within our TFSA’s for our kids. We also have yet to find a better option in that regard, so please let me know if you so (and I’ll do the same!).

    Wishing you and your family a wonderful 2020!

    1. Well, I’m glad I’m not alone with our TFSA strategy. I’m so surprised that we cannot open custodial accounts here in Canada. For now, the TFSA is a good alternative.

  2. Wow, 2019 was a busy year for you! Congrats on so many great money moves. I have two comments:

    1. What? You have a vintage truck? I want pictures! Is it just yours, or does hubby share your passion for this truck? My husband keeps telling me his 1964 Mustang is an appreciating asset, but I don’t want to believe him. I guess he might actually be telling the truth! Ha ha.

    2. Investing for little ones: the best solution I’ve found is to open an informal trust account. You should be able to do this at any financial institution. There’s no legal with necessary—you basically open it like any account.

    An informal trust allows you to manage the account and control it until your daughter is of legal age. Until then, all income (dividends, interest) is attributable to you, but all capital gains are attributable to her. Once she reaches legal age, you no longer need to report the income on her investments. That’s legally now her income, so she will need to report it. (The capital gains attribution doesn’t change—They continue to be attributable to her.)

    What’s not so great about informal trusts is that your daughter will get full control of the account once she’s of legal age. She could decide to sell everything and blow the money and you’ll have no say in the matter!

    But if you think you can trust your child, the amazing thing about informal trusts is, as she’s growing up, you can use capital gains harvesting to continually raise the ACB of the investments. It’s highly unlikely that she’ll owe any tax since she’s a kid and won’t have any other income.

    Then, when you daughter is an adult and finally withdraws the funds, there will be very little capital gains to report since you’ve reported it numerous times over the years and moved the ACB up each time.

    You could go another crazy step further (I wouldn’t advise it) and take any income earned from the original investments and invest it in a second account. Any income that this income earns will now be 100% attributable to your daughter, even before she reaches legal age.

    You can also put your CCB payments in this second account to invest in her name and have her report any resulting income on her own tax return.

    This is hyper optimisation (which means I of course considered it!) but I did the math and decided it wasn’t worth the complexity.

    Anyway, this has turned into a very long comment and I’m probably making your brain hurt. So I’ll end it here. Let me know anytime if you have questions! I’ve researched this topic to death!

    1. 1. No, my hubby doesn’t share my enthusiasm, in fact I don’t even let him drive my truck – haha.

      2. Wow, Chrissy, you have done your research. I had come across an informal trust in my research but the couple of banks that I talked to about it were not helpful and would not set one up. Thanks for all the great info, may have to look into this deeper.

  3. wow nice Maria

    Looks like a great year overall. You got a bunch of rentals congrats, I guess i got to read around to see more of how you started in that space.

    Solid net worth btw.. Anyways keep it up, nice looking site too.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Rob. Yes we have 9 rental properties that are helping on our journey to financial independence.

  4. Congratulations on the 8th rental property. That $1,423,000 net worth is nothing to sneer at. I know it isn’t always easy to reveal those details online, especially since you’re not anonymous. But I firmly believe that transparency is really what sets you apart.

    1. Thank you, Flora. Yes, at times it feels weird revealing my real numbers but if it helps someone along the way then it is worth it. I don’t do it to brag but rather to give a better picture of where we are on our journey. I don’t think there is any point in comparing numbers between people because personal finance is exactly that, personal.

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