Investment Update – Jan 2013

Welcome to my first update in 2013 which now involves a shift in format since with my house paid for it really doesn’t makes sense to use my net worth to track my progress to early retirement.

To track my progress I’ve decided to track both my expenses and my investment gains.  So once the investments gains are consistently beating my expenses I’m financially independent and can stop working.  I think my ideal tracking of this would be one full year of investment and spending data, but I don’t have that yet.  So for now I’ll do a trailing six month average on spending and investments for the calendar year.

Investments

Account (Contribution), [+/- Gain or Loss less contributions]

RRSP $31,950 ($100), [+$950]
LIRA $12,160 ($0), [+360]
TFSA $17,460 ($0), [+$860]
Pension $67,310 ($4430), [+$4180]
Wife’s RRSP $35,560 ($2500), [+$660]
Wife’s Investment Account $13,550 ($0), [$450]
Wife’s TFSA $11,810 ($0), [+$510]
My Investment Account $7,110 ($0), [+$410]
High Interest Savings Account $1,200 ($0),[$0]

Investment Net Worth $198,110 ($7030 ), [+8380 or 4.2%]

Spending Averages

Last Month $2427

Trailing Last Six Months (less mortgage payments) $2657

Results

Number of months spending covered by investment gains: 3.2 {Target 1.0 or higher}

Commentary:

Oh wow!  So that is what financial independence feels like!  I didn’t notice anything different until I ran the numbers to realize my investments gains exceeded my spending by a large margin for the last month.  Of course that is only a one month snap shot, so that doesn’t mean much.  I need that to be occurring on a 12 month trailing average for both investments gains and spending before I declare my retirement plan a success.

Of course I’m still thrilled with the results as I managed to contribute just over $7000 to my accounts which is a nice start to my $48,000 goal for the year.  That was helped significantly by a lump sum payment I get to my pension of $3000 that I got in January and then another $2500 we contributed to my wife’s spousal RRSP.  I suspect the other event that is helping this month to look good is a number of the stocks I own paid a dividend in January.  Yet that should start to smooth out as I get more investment data over the course of this year.  Also yes I did notice I’m in spitting distance of $200,000 in investments, so I’ll get there next month.

Also please note this new format is still under development.  I will likely add or modify things a bit for the first few months, so any suggestions would be welcome.  For example, I’m still working out what I want to display on the graph.

Any questions?

Wine from…Frozen Juice?!?

While surfing around the internet one day I came across an idea on how you can make wine out of frozen juice. Yes, the the stuff you buy in little cans.  To which my thoughts were: “You can do that?!?” followed by “I wonder if it is any good.”  After all I do make my own wine out of wine kits at home, so I already have all the equipment.  Also I happened to have a few extra packets of yeast just sitting around.  I saw the makings of a little experiment since I’ve already made my own wine from the sour cherry tree in my backyard and this wasn’t that much different.

I read the instructions online and paid close attention to the warning to ensure you were using 100% pure juice otherwise you will get crap wine.  I’m not sure if you buy much frozen juice, but finding juice that is 100% pure juice is actually fairly hard.  Yet after looking around I did manage to find some white grape juice (two cans at $1.37 each) and then the other thing you need is a lot of sugar.  Total cost was $6.16, so this experiment was mainly going to be my time, but otherwise was cheap to try.

To make the wine is actually fairly easy (beyond the fact you have to ensure you sterilize everything each step of the way).  Boil the sugar in equal amount of water and turn it into a syrup.  Let cool add in your frozen juice and pour into a food grade container.  Check your specific gravity and add water as needed to get to 1.09 specific gravity. Ensure the solution isn’t too cold otherwise you won’t be able to ferment much of anything.  Then add your yeast.  Cover and check back in a few days to confirm you are fermenting (you will know by little bubbles on top).  Now ignore it for a few weeks (likely close to a month) but keep it fairly warm (21C is ok, but ideal is a bit warmer at 24C).  Check the specific gravity (should be 1.00 or less) after most of the fermenting has stopped and your yeast has fallen to the bottom of the container.

Then rack the wine from the first container to a second one.  Let sit for another few days or even a week to clear.  Rack it one last time and then bottle the results (throw out the bottom of the container as it will be cloudy).  During the bottling I tried a sip of the wine and yes it was horrible!  Yet most high fruit juice wines have a similar problem, you NEED to let them age.  So I put the seven bottles I got in the cellar and forgot about them for two months.

Then the big taste testing occurred and much to my surprise it was ok (you need to chill prior to drinking most white wines or those with fruit flavour in them).  Yes it lacked some complexity of a commercial grade wine, but frankly, I’ve had worse commercial wine myself.  So overall I give the experiment a passing grade, but personally would suggest waiting for three months prior to trying.  Also next time I would likely add a few additives to help things along in the complex flavour department.

The nice thing about this process is the ability to create custom blends of wine that you want in small batches.  So hard apple cider is a possibility, also a honey wine or cut a white wine with some green tea and a bit of honey.  Just about anything you can think of and you can make it.  I would caution I would not make a red wine this way.  Why?  It’s just too hard to make a good red with just frozen juice, you would have lost most of that complex flavour that is essential to a red.  So sticking to fruit or white wines would be a good idea.

Yet at the price of less than a $1 a bottle I will give it high marks for value and I will be experimenting again in the future.  After all I am a chemical engineer, so to me this entire experiment was fun.  I will also say I won’t replace all my wine kits as I rather like my red wine, but this could be a fun way to try new flavours.

So would you ever consider making your own wine from frozen fruit juice? Or do you think I’ve gone off the deep end with this one?

I’ll Wait…For Now

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

I have a guilty pleasure.  About once every couple of months I ogle land on the internet.  Compared to most things available for viewing, this is a fairly tame past time.  The land I look at is probably not in an area of the province that my wife is terribly interested in, but there is one thing that is super enticing…..price.  There are plots of land within a 2-hour drive of Toronto (not overly important to me, but from a geographic standpoint a good measure) that can be purchased for less than a brand-new moderately priced vehicle (around $30,000).

I recently read a Survivalist blog where the individual’s strategy in today’s moderately low inflation was to purchase durable goods, such as appliances while money is cheap.  I have a feeling that land will also go up in price as inflation increases, giving me even more incentive to “get in” while it’s cheap.

This is the type of land that I would build my tiny house on, to live out my retirement in moderate isolation.  It is also the kind of land that is almost an impulse-buy to regret down the road.  When I look at my entire retirement plan, right now I’m only nearing one-third completion – I still have a long ways to go.  So, I’ll wait (and ogle).

Although the area where I continue to look is desirable to me, there will always be someplace else for me and my wife to go (if she can still stand me by the time we retire *grin*).  There are areas in the province that I could move to that would cost me half as much to get just as nice of a house to live in.

This is the reason that I’ll wait, and why I usually wait for all major purchases.  There are always going to be better deals.  I would really like a 60 or 70 inch television, mostly so that I would have an enormous screen to play video games on.  I (along with most people I’m sure) are under constant barrage of sales promising massive savings on consumer products.  I try to put off these kinds of purchase decisions by looking at these “deals” only as deals if I really need them.

If something is actually broken, then I’ll start to comparison shop around (seriously looking into buying something) – most of the time I’m one of the most boring window shoppers out there.

Are you constantly looking for upgrades to your current stuff?  Do you have a dream house or dream location in mind for retirement?