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A Man’s Gotta Eat! Cheap Frozen Lunch Edition.

I am not your typical “frugal” blogger.  My retirement/saving plan has never been extreme frugality, or sacrificing everything you enjoy for a few years to ensure early retirement.  My philosophy has always been – life is short – enjoy as much as you can afford to – but make sure you always pay yourself first to ensure you don’t HAVE to work forever.

This brings me to today’s post. Although I still spend way too much at restaurants, bars, and on entertainment – one area I have actually done a good job cutting back my spending over the past year is by bringing lunches to work 4 days a week.  For about 8 years straight, I would go out for lunch every single day.  Aside from the cost savings – I have found that there are actually some pretty enjoyable frozen lunches that are easy to make/cheap.  I figured I’d use today’s post to showcase a few of my favourite frozen/ready made lunches and see if anyone else has any suggestions.  I will not be including sandwiches – because most mornings I am too lazy/rushed to make them and I wanted to keep it fair across the board.  So without further Ado….

My top 4 Value Frozen lunches.

 

 1- Stouffers Bistro Crustini Meatball MozzerelaValue Investing Dividends Frugal Blog Personal Finance

So far my personal favourite.  This one can be found on sale at Walmart or Superstore for $1.88.  It includes two crustini’s and is fairly filling.  What makes it great is the sauce & the crust.  I’ve also tried the Turkey Bacon Club – and although still pretty good – does not compare to this one.

2 – Swanson’s Fried Chicken

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I’ll be the first to admit, I always though these TV dinners would be gross – but I never actually tried them.  I decided to give these a shot about a month ago because they were on clearance.  I was able to find them for $2.00 each so I tried a few different varieties.  So far I have tried the Turkey Dinner, Fried Chicken & Stuffed Turkey.  While all of them were actually surprisingly good – the Fried Chicken one was the best.  This chicken is somehow tastier than KFC/Chicken Delight.  These meals are also nice, because unlike a pizza pop or something – you get a bit of vegetables (usually corn or beans).  When on sale – you can’t go wrong for $2-3 each.  Another great thing about these compared to pizza pockets, crustinis, etc is they are more filling.  The brownie/apple or cranberry treats are never really great – but the rest of the meal makes up for it.

3- El Monterey Chimichanga

Chimichanga

 

These things are GOOD!  Even better if you have some sour cream/Salsa or hot sauce around.  I don’t get these as much as the others for the simple fact I don’t have my Costco membership anymore and that seemed to be where I could always find them.  I plan on renewing my membership soon, so I’ll probably be chowing down on some of these bad boys again in the coming months.

4- No Name Pizza Pockets

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If you like Pizza Pops but have never tried these – you are missing out.  The pepperoni one is my favourite, and these no name brand pockets are better than any other pizza pocket/pop I’ve tried.  You can get 8 of them for 4 bucks – which for me works out to $2.00 per meal.  I find the dough and sauce to be better than a Pilsbury Pizza Pocket.  The only downside with these (for me) is that they sometimes wont fill me up. These pair great with some potato chips or jalapeno cheezies!
I am always looking for new quick and easy lunches to try, and if they are on sale or cheap even better.  If you have any suggestions on others to try – let me know!

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March Passive Income Update.

Happy Easter! Another month has come and gone – which means time for the monthly update post!

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Personal Highlights for March:

  • Finished reading “Warren Buffet & the Interpretation of Financial Statements”.  To be honest It was a terrible book.  I have since started a new book “Astrophysics for people in a hurry” by Neil Degrasse Tyson.
  • March was a busy month, so I wasn’t able to post much,  (just 4 new posts) however I did write my longest/most in depth post as I did a Deep dive into my portfolio. You can read it HERE in case you missed it.
  • The Winnipeg Jets clinched a playoff spot, which is awesome, although it means it’s going to be an expensive few months.
  • Finished binge watching Peaky Blinders on Netflix & American Vandal.  Both were great.
  • Our home day care that was set to take both kids starting May 1st called us to inform us they are closing and won’t be able to take our kids.  Now we have 1 month to find a new day care:(
  • Amber officially accepted a job offer – and will go back to work May 1st.
  • Had our first Easter Egg hunt with the kids – and it was awesome.
  • Even with just 4 posts this month, had my second highest all time visitor count in March!

Financial Highlights for February:

  • Handed all of our tax info to our “tax guy”.  Hopefully get our refund in April.
  • I updated my portfolio page to make my holdings a little easier to read.
  • Continued bi weekly payments into RRSPs & Spousal RSP.
  • Was a slow month.  Aside from regular bi weekly contributions, no purchases were made.
  • Received my first dividends from 2 new holdings I purchased this year.  Power Corp & Western Forest.
  • Even with no new stock purchases, dripped 24 new shares/units.  I was paid from 7 companies and 1 fund in March.

Passive Income Update For March 2018.

TFSA’S:

 

Chorus Aviation: $10.88 (dripped 1 share)

Intertape Polymer: $50.40

Diversified Royalty: $9.14 (dripped 2 shares)

Artis Reit: $50.40 (dripped 3 shares)

Western Forest: $10.44 (dripped 3 shares)

Plaza Reit: $25.89 (dripped 6 shares)

Power Corp: $71.70 (dripped 2 shares)

TFSA’s Total: $228.85 

RRSP:

Canadian Equity Income Distribution: $217.63 (dripped 7 shares)

Total Passive Income March 2018:  $446.48

 

Portfolio Update:

My portfolio decreased by 1.45% month over month.  This marks the first time my portfolio has decreased in consecutive months since I’ve been tracking it.  This is also the first time my portfolio has dipped below $300,000 in 5 months. The early retirement portfolio now sits at $298,737.67.

Dividends grew by $147.00 vs last March(Increase of 49%).

It was nice to see a couple new dividends in March, and I am looking forward to June which will be my first distribution from XAW.

Current Watch List:

Andrew Peller: ADW

Cascades: CAS

InterRent Reit: IIP

Northview Apartment Reit: NVU

Caledonia Mining: CAL

My Watchlist hasn’t changed from last month, but I am interested in adding to my position in Western Forest.

 

That’s it!  Hope everyone else had a great March!

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2 Incomes is better than 1….or is it?

Just got confirmation this week that my wife has accepted a job and will be returning to work in about a month.  Her maternity leave will be coming to an end in a couple of weeks and although the extra income will obviously help – can’t say I am 100% happy about it.

The Pros:

  • Increased monthly family income
  • Company has a Retirement matching plan
  • Wife will get some much needed adult interaction/time out of the house
  • Yearly wage increases, benefits, and more

The Cons:

  • With both of us working, we will now be forking over between $12,000-$15,000/year in childcare costs. (luckily get some tax relief on the expense)
  • Her job requires her to stay an extra hour later than mine, which means unless we get a second vehicle, I’ll be picking up the kids each day and she will have to bus home.  Not too bad in the summer, but -40 winters will suck.
  • Leaving the kids with a stranger for 8+ hours a day 😦

The hardest part is definitely going to be leaving the kids with someone we don’t know for so long each day.  On the plus side, it will be nice to have some interaction with other kids, and I am genuinely curious to see how they will interact with new kids and strangers.

This change is probably extra difficult for me because when I grew up my parents were able to split their shifts so that we never had to go to daycare.  So the whole daycare thing is especially foreign to me.  I know in the long run it will be best – the wife will be happier, and better off, and once the kids are in school we should really notice the difference in dual income – but the selfish side of me is still going to miss having the kids home everyday.

Anyways, noticed I haven’t posted much this month & just thought i’d share what’s currently going through my head, as we enter this next chapter of our lives.  I assume these are pretty normal feelings, but what the hell do I know…

The rest of the month has been good aside from the whole family (except me) getting a cold.  We are hosting an Easter dinner this weekend, the Jets are officially in the playoffs (got my playoff tickets in the mail yesterday)!  Also received my first dividends from 2 new companies (Western Forest & Power Corp).  Full monthly update coming in the next few days!

Cheers!

 

 

Cocktails Rum Old Fashioned Recipe Jordan Maas Winnipeg Canada Finance Blog Investing Dividends

Diplomatico Exlusiva Rum Old Fashioned

Lately I’ve been sipping on Diplomatico Exclusiva Rum. It is great on its own – however I was curious to try it in a cocktail.  I checked out the Diplomatico website to see what they recommended -and noticed they had a recipe for a Rum old fashioned.  This made me very happy – as this is my favorite cocktail – with my current favorite sipper…Needless to say I had to try it.

This rum is extremely sweet on its own – so I reduced the amount of simple syrup I’d normally use.  I had a couple (tried with different measurements) but the one that was best was as follows:

  • 2.5 Oz Diplomatico Exlusiva Rum
  • .25 oz Simple Syrup
  • 4 Dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
  • Orange Zest/Orange peel Garnish

    Directions: Add Rum, Simple, Bitters in mixing glass with ice, and stir for 30 seconds.  Strain into cocktail glass/coupe.  Twist orange over drink and drop in. Enjoy!

Cocktails Rum Old Fashioned Recipe Jordan Maas Winnipeg Canada Finance Blog Investing Dividends

I had originally planned on starting my new book as well (hence the picture above).. however with 2 sick kids waking up every 10 minutes – I decided against it last minute and just had the drink and went to bed 🙂

Cheers!

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Deep dive into my portfolio: Fun with numbers & graphs.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been trying to focus a little more on Asset allocation, geographical diversification and taking as much control of my portfolio as I can by selling some funds and starting to funnel everything into my direct investing portfolio.

I decided it would be fun to do a “deep dive” into my own portfolio.  I had a rough idea of what I held in each fund, what % of my funds are in equity vs real estate – etc – but I thought it would be interesting to dig into each one, and take a look.  I was also curious at what rate my overall portfolio was growing, my monthly dividends were growing, and how my asset allocation changed if I included my house & cabin vs just looking at my investment portfolio.  I also thought it would help if I made it as visual as possible – so I created some charts & graphs to help along the way.

Investment Portfolio Growth:

Let’s start with the basics: Total Investment Portfolio.  When I first started tracking my investments (January 2015), I had a portfolio valued at $160,314.49.  It has been 37 months since I started tracking my journey….let’s see where are now:

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At the time of writing this my investment portfolio sits at: $303,131.11.  In a short 3 year period – I have almost doubled my portfolio value.  Not too shabby – but before I start getting to excited it is important to understand why this happened…

This was due to a few factors:

  • Cash injections (regular bi-weekly automated contributions, and some one off stock purchases)
  • Continued bull market run
  • Got lucky on a few marijuana stocks which I sold/flipped for 300+% gains into some safer stocks.  You can read more about that HERE
  • Dripping/Compounding effect.

I obviously don’t expect to double my portfolio every 3 years, in fact I am somewhat expecting the portfolio to take some big dips over the next few months – or whenever the market decides to correct itself.

The market has been red hot the last few years – and nobody knows when it will come crashing down (but it will – and that’s okay).  If I was closer to retirement, I’d probably be reducing my equity % in my portfolio, and increasing my fixed income % – but I have time on my side.  That said – I did start to wonder how my current portfolio looks in terms of Equities Vs Fixed Income Vs Real Estate.  So let’s take a look.

Asset Allocation/Geographical Allocation:

I decided to look at this in 2 ways – first just looking at my investments, and then including my house & cabin.  I will only include the equity I have in my house (deduct the mortgage) and I will include the full cabin, since it has no mortgage.

Let’s see how it breaks down.

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I am sure 99% of financial advisor’s would cringe at the low fixed income %, however to be honest what worries me most is how over exposed I am to the Canadian market.  In fact, prior to switching one of my Mutual funds to direct investing and swapping it to XAW (All world, EX Canada) my Canadian exposure was closer to 60%.  All my accounts are registered so there are no tax implications right now – or need to have a higher and more preferential Canadian % of equities.  My plan is to slowly try and get to:

  • 30% Canadian Equitiy
  • 50% Foreign Equity
  • 10% Real estate
  • 10% Fixed Income (increasing as I get older)

I was curious to see how much this would change, if I included my real estate (just what I actually own).  Results are:

dividend investing blog personal finance canada

When I include my physical real estate (minus mortgage) the real estate % jumps up to 35% of my assets – which I *THINK* is normal – but I could be way off.  Let me know if these numbers seem about where they should be.

Passive Income:

The number one thing most people online who blog about finances/investing (at least the people I follow) seem to cover/focus on is there monthly dividend/passive income streams.  If I am being honest, I never paid too much attention to my monthly “passive income” and probably still don’t as much as most bloggers I follow.  I’ve always been more interested in overall total portfolio growth/gains.  I always figured – as long as my overall gains are beating the markets, eventually I can switch my portfolio to more income producing assets – and the larger the portfolio – the more income i’ll get.  That said – I’d be lying If I said I didn’t get a thrill from seeing monthly income going up – or seeing a stock I own getting a dividend raise.  Also now that I am getting older I think it is important to start thinking about how much income i’ll need each month and looking for ways to grow my monthly income.

I only have 3 years of data to look at – but I figured I should look at how my monthly dividend income is coming along. Here are two ways to look at it:

Monthly Gains Year over year:

Dividend Income Fire personal finance investing blog

Total Monthly Dividends:

Dividend Growth Investing Personal Finance Blog Canada

*One important thing to note, 40% of my total portfolio is currently in a fund that pays ZERO dividends.  Once I inevitably switch this fund to my direct investing, my monthly dividends should increase substantially (an extra $275-$400 per month depending what I invest it in).

The good news is – that even though monthly passive income hasn’t been a priority for me over the last 3 years – it is still going up each month(for the most part) .  When you look at the year over year growth it looks even better.

Account Allocation:

Lastly, I wanted to look at what types of accounts my investments are held in to get a better understanding of if I am on the right track – specifically from a taxable income in retirement view.  Here is what the numbers say:

Dividend Growth Investing Finance Blog Canada Jordan Maas

My RRSP accounts for over 80% of my total investments, while my spousal RRSP is currently under 2%. If this keeps up – it clearly won’t be the most efficient use of savings in retirement as my taxable income will be pretty high.  Our TFSA’s currently account for 16% of our investments which will be nice in retirement. The kids education fund doesn’t have anything in it yet – as I just opened it – but this will be a focus over the next few years as well.

A couple takeaways:

  • My personal yield is pretty low.  If I look  at my total average dividends paid out last year vs the average value of my portfolio – my personal yield is only 1.7%.  The good news is – I can easily increase this when I need more income by switching my funds with no yield to something that pays a monthly/quarterly dividend.
  • My fixed income allocation is extremely low(2%).  Personally I am okay with this right now, as I consider myself an aggressive investor and I am still fairly young (contrary to what my body says)….but I should start to slowly increase this over the next few years.
  • I would like to reduce my exposure to Canadian Equities – this can be replaced with some fixed income/foreign equity.
  • To ensure maximum tax efficiencies in retirement I need to get my spousal RRSP closer to mine – as well as ensure our TFSA’s are maxed.  I’ve already started the process by reducing my RRSP contributions and increasing what I put into the spousal RRSP.

Some questions for other bloggers/investors:

  • What % of real estate do you hold?  How much if you include your personal residence(s)?
  • What is your personal yield?  Do you focus more on total growth or monthly income growth?
  • Would you be concerned with my high exposure to Canada or low exposure to fixed income?

    I am having dinner with a good friend of mine tomorrow who is a financial advisor. I am very curious to hear his thoughts 🙂

    As always – Any other questions or concerns/comments? Let me know in the comments!