I have never reflected back on a decade before, but seeing a bunch of other people’s decade in review has made me want to jump on the bandwagon. The details in my decade in review will also highlight some of my values and where I chose to spend my time and money. It will be a good thing to reflect on in a decade from now.
Slow and steady progress is something that I have always strived for. It is astonishing to look back at all the progress that accumulates over a decade.
I’m not going to lie; at the beginning of the decade, I was not tracking my financial information as I do now. That being said, hubby and I were still able to achieve some important (to us) milestones.
If you are stuck or are just getting started, just know that slow and steady progress really does have an amazing effect in the long term. It is so easy to focus on what is right in front of you at the moment that you forget the overall journey.
All of those small steps you are doing now to set yourself up financially will pay off. Just keep making progress.
We kicked off the decade with a big year for us personally.
We got married in Costa Rica in July. We spent a week backpacking around before meeting up with our friends and family. Even though it rained like crazy on our wedding day, it was still such an awesome experience. I would highly recommend a destination wedding to anyone considering it.
This was the first full year in our new home. We started attacking our mortgage and were making good progress on our savings goals.
On the travel front, besides spending 2 weeks in Costa Rica we went to Bermuda for a week to visit some friends. All and all a great beach year.
2011 was an in-between just plugging along year. We continued to work as much as we could and put the majority of our savings towards our mortgage.
Hubby got a job closer to home which meant no more commuting back and forth to Fort McMurray. It was nice to have him home regularly. Even if he picked up a bunch of overtime, now that he was home it meant that we would see each other daily.
We enjoyed the all-inclusive resort we stayed at for our wedding so decided to try another one out in the Dominican Republic. This trip wasn’t nearly as exciting, there was only two of us and we missed traveling with our friends and family. To top it off hubby got sick for most of the trip.
After two and a half years of going back to school part-time while working full-time, I finally finished my education degree and began teaching full time. Transitioning into teaching meant that my income almost doubled. And of course, we put all that extra income into our mortgage.
Although I’m not a huge travel hacker, I still like to accumulate points whenever and wherever I can. In 2012, we cashed in a bunch of our points for 2 return flights to Thailand. I was now getting paid through the summer so no longer had to work and my hubby was able to take a month off.
We spent a month in Thailand and had a great time. Unfortunately, on this trip, it was my turn to get sick. I have no idea what I caught but I was sick for more than half the trip. I lost over ten pounds on this trip and on my frame, that was a lot. There were days when I would stay in bed all day and hubby would go out exploring without me.
After spending a month on vacation in 2012 we decided to set ourselves up to do the same in 2013. This time we were off to South America. I had some work to do in Santiago, Chile, so my flights were paid for. We used some of our travel points to fly hubby down with me.
We arrived a couple of weeks before I had to work so we spent some time touring around. This was the first international trip that we decided to rent a car. In the week we had the car we put over 3500km on it.
Renting a car was a great decision. It gave us the freedom to go and see what we wanted when we wanted as we were no longer constrained by transportation schedules.
After Chile, we flew up to Peru for about 10 days or so. We couldn’t fly all the way to South America and not go see Machu Picchu. Although Machu Picchu is very impressive, another lesser-known Incan ruin site worth visiting is Sacsayhuamán.
Because our big trip this year was partially paid by travel hacking we were able to continue to put a large chunk of money towards our mortgage.
2014 was a massive year for us. After 4 years and eleven months, we paid off our mortgage. To celebrate being mortgage-free we went on our “honeymoon.” It was a trip that we had wanted to do for a long time and finally did it.
Cashing in some travel rewards points got us 2 return flights to South Africa. We spent three weeks in South Africa and one week in Zimbabwe. It truly was a trip of a lifetime. We cage dove with great white sharks, walked on the beach with penguins, and saw cheetahs and lions (among other animals) in the wild.
Being that we traveled last year to the Southern hemisphere in our summer, their winter we did it again this year. This turned out to be a great decision. Because it was their winter it was low season, we had no problem getting hotel rooms and there were no crowds anywhere. While on safari it was dry season so all the animals had to come to the watering holes, which made for great animal watching.
It’s too bad the flight is so long to get there or else we would go back more frequently.
After coming back from our trip, we now had a decision to make. We were mortgage-free, now what were we going to do with our savings?
Our Intro into Real Estate
With guidance from hubby’s uncle (an established real estate investor), we registered for a weekend introduction to real estate investing course. We were hesitant at first, but this weekend proved to be a catalyst for our real estate investing future. This course was in October and by the end of the year, we had a plan to buy our first rental property.
2014 was the first year that we started to formally track our net worth. By year-end, we had grown our net worth to $563,000. The majority of this was the value of our home now that it was mortgage-free.
We celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary by heading back to Costa Rica. This time we had a month in that beautiful country. We rented a jeep and drove all over the country, through farmer’s fields, streams, and rivers. It was a unique adventure.
Now that we felt stable financially, we started trying to conceive and add a new member to our family.
On top of everything else, we also bought our first 4 rental properties that year. Needless to say, we developed some very good systems that enabled us to do this. By setting up a home equity line of credit (HELOC) on our home, we were able to have the down payments for all 4 properties.
Due in large part to our acquisition of rental properties, by the end of 2015, our net worth grew to $720,000.
A large part of 2016 was spent managing our new rental properties and learning all the ins and outs of being landlords. Although we had done a lot of research and education, nothing can prepare you as much as just jumping in and taking action.
We continued to have a high savings rate. Because all of our savings in 2015 went to our rental portfolio, we did not invest in RRSP’s. This lead to a large tax bill in 2016 for 2015 taxes owing. We will not make this mistake again and now have split our savings between rental properties and RRSP’s.
This year we only added one property to our rental portfolio, bringing our total to 5 properties that we were now self-managing.
On the travel front, we went to Bermuda for a friend’s wedding and were fortunate enough to spend some time in the Middle East. Hubby’s aunt was working in Israel and invited us to come visit. I was able to manage 2 weeks off in November, while hubby was able to be over there for a month.
Together we spent 1 week touring around Israel and one week on a private tour in Jordan. This was one of the coolest trips we have ever been on because it was to another part of the world that we had yet to see. We were also fortunate that it was safe for us to visit when we did.
Both countries were beautiful and we never once felt unsafe while visiting.
We saw a bit of appreciation on our properties and now that we had tenants paying towards 5 mortgages, by the end of the year, our net worth was $922,000.
I know that I have said this previously, but 2017 was another pivotal year for us. This was the year we learned about the financial independence (FI) and financial independence retire early (FIRE) communities. Although we were already working towards financial freedom, we now had a framework and support of like-minded individuals.
On the rental property front, we added 2 more properties to our portfolio. We were now self-managing 7 properties in total. This was a big jump for us, 5 felt manageable, 7 took more of our time.
This required that we hone in our systems. We also started paying people to help us out from time to time. Managing 7 properties on top of our full-time jobs left little time to do the things we wanted to be spending our time doing. By contracting out some of the work, our time was freed up.
2017 was Canada’s 150th anniversary so we decided to travel within our own country for the summer. We spent our summer visiting Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City. Hubby had not visited Montreal or Quebec City before, and I had not been since I was a kid. This summer was the perfect time for an in-country staycation.
Another reason why 2017 was such a big year for us was it was the year we surpassed a million dollars in net worth. By the end of the year, our net worth was $1,036,000.
2018 was a game-changing year for us personally. I gave birth to our daughter, bringing our family up to 3 members. After over 2 years of trying to conceive, holding our little one in our arms just melted our hearts.
On the travel front, we went to Hawaii with some friends and found out that they were also expecting that year. It was fun to watch our bellies grow together and now to watch our little ones grow up together.
We bought one more rental property this year. This brought our total up to 8 properties in our portfolio. When we first started investing our goal was 10 properties, but with all the mortgage changes that had occurred over the past few years, our new goal was 8.
At least that was my goal. Hubby was convinced that we would one day buy more.
Now that we had achieved our first million in net worth we set on building the next million. By the end of 2018, our net worth was $1,193,000.
Because our little one was born in the second half of 2018, my maternity leave extended into 2019. We were prepared for this and decided to split up the parental leave. I took the first 8 months and hubby took the last 4. This lead to us having 2 months off together as a family this summer.
It was a good thing we set ourselves up like that because we had a bit of a whirlwind summer. We decided to sell our home and purchase (and renovate) our next home. Our new home was only about 100 square feet bigger than our previous home, but the space is much more functional.
During our renovation, we decided to rent out our home and live in someone else’s house. My parents were out of town for the summer so we moved into their home.
We spent some time in Vancouver and Ottawa over the summer staying with and visiting family and friends. It was a very hectic summer, but the decision to move into my parents’ home saved us almost $4000.
And hubby got his way, we now had 9 rental properties in our portfolio. Although, once the market turns around our intention is to liquidate that last property.
On the health front, after completing some strength testing before Christmas my numbers came in very similar to what they were pre-pregnancy. I have been consistently strength training 3 times a week since returning to work from maternity leave. Although I don’t feel as strong as I did pre-baby, my results show the opposite. Obviously the program that I am on is working.
I’m not sure what our net worth will be at the end of this year. At the time of this writing, the final numbers are not in yet. You will have to stay tuned and watch for my year-end wrap-up post.
Wow, what a decade it has been.
Looking at all the steady progress we have made over the past decade is a bit overwhelming. Every year we just tried to make a bit of progress in our health, finances and personal life.
Over a decade that steady progress really adds up. We visited 10 different countries (some of them multiple times), welcomed the birth of our daughter, paid off our mortgage and acquired 9 rental properties.
Now that we have a plan to achieve financial independence I can’t wait to see what the next decade has in store for us.
What was one of your big accomplishments in the past decade?