In part 1, I wrote about the early days of my career – starting at BMO and then at TD. In this post I’ll get into the critical three years where I achieved my financial goals and started thinking about what was next.
In 2018 I was 37, my sons were out of the baby stage, my mortgage was well under $100K and I began to wonder what the next stage of my life will look like.
I started simply by listing out what I wanted to do more of: writing, travelling, and meeting new people. And I analyzed how much money I needed to support a
comfortable lifestyle for myself and the family.
I gave myself three years (or until 2021) to figure out how I was going to get there. The illusive goal was to make more money while also having more time to write, travel and meet new people.
First, I explored increasing my income by doing 10 hours of consulting work a month, in the evenings and weekends. I set my rate at $75/hr and started asking friends if their companies needed some help.
I quickly learned that working longer hours for more money aligned poorly with my overall goal.
Also, once I started a project with a company, 10 hours/week of sporadic work was not enough time to do a good job.
Finally, TD had policies against moonlighting, and I wasn’t sure I wanted this extra money enough to deal with the “paperwork”.
So, I went for door #2: that is get paid more for my 9-5.
Once I made the decision, it was a relatively easy process. I applied to several internal positions and then landed a new role at TD that paid more, with a higher bonus and more earning potential.
In the meantime, I kicked off my pvot40 blog to fulfill my writing aspirations and interview interesting people. I also started booking more trips to satisfy the travelling dream.
Things were progressing well. By early 2020, I had a better salary, tripled the number of trips and written several well received articles on my blog.
Then the COVID19 pandemic hit! ALL my plans had to stop.
The kids needed my attention with virtual school, traveling was not possible, and I was just too busy and anxious to write.
However, as the chaos of the lockdown settled, I noticed that our expenses were down drastically: no daycare, no travel plans, no dining out or even driving. In parallel, the Toronto real estate market was taking a temporary nosedive.
I realized that one way I can make money without working longer hours was to
own Real Estate!
In fall of 2020, I engaged our Real Estate agent (the best one in the city), and by January 2021 we had a beautiful condo in downtown Toronto. It was a fantastic deal – the condo was priced $100K lower than even today and we snagged a 5-year fixed mortgage rate of 1.99% thanks to my AMAZING broker.
The condo increased our household income by almost 30K a year (our expenses also increased, but in a few years the condo will be cash-flow positive while raising our borrowing powers and net-worth).
But with travel plans still mostly on hold and lockdowns continuing longer than expected, I was aching for more outdoor space that my little townhouse was sorely lacking.
A bigger house meant bigger expenses! And it led me to go for round two of
job hunts in just 3 years. I lucked out and landed a new job March of 2021, with
a substantial increase in both salary and bonuses.
Armed with my new salary, I bought a detached, mid-century house, with an
amazing outdoor space and a fully finished basement for the kids to roam
free on September 1st, 2021.
I also happen to sell my old house a few weeks after purchasing the new house and we benefitted greatly from this minor arbitrage (in a rising market) because the sale of our house exceeded ALL my wildest expectations! And we were able to use the mini windfall to establish a good emergency fund, add to the RRSP, pay off consumer debts and set aside money for future house repairs.
By the end of 2021, we were in a great place financially.
I looked at our household budget spreadsheet and the projected surplus at the end of 2022 looked better than ever before!
Yet, I was not travelling more or writing more or meeting new people. And being on a complex program, with 100+ people and executive scrutiny at work meant almost non-stop online meetings.
I was also seeing that all my additional income was likely go into buying more stuff: more expensive restaurants; Smythe instead of discount Banana Republic; luxury car instead of our 2010 RAV4.
I was happy but not 100% aligned with where I wanted to be…
Stay tuned for part III.