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Net Worth Update September 2015 – SmilingSaver (Digging out of Debt)

Welcome to the Million Dollar Journey September 2015 Net Worth Update – Team MDJ edition. A select group of readers were selected to be part of Team MDJ which was conceived after the million dollar net worth milestone was achieved in June 2014. SmilingSaver was selected as a team member and will post net worth updates on a regular basis. Here is more about him.


  • Name: SmilingSaver
  • Age: 30 (+3.33%)
  • Net Worth: negative $22,725 (vs. -$33,929 last quarter)
  • Day Job: Engineer
  • Family Income: $74,000
  • Goals: Start 2016 Debt free.
  • Notes:Married in May 2015. Wife recently graduated from school with second degree in Oil and Gas Engineering. Immigrated to Canada 13 years ago (full story here).

Hey Everyone.

This was one roller-coaster of the quarter financially. Remember that I told you about my car in my last update? Well the car decided that it did not like the clutch while I was driving. No grip no nothing. $1,700 later, my car is running again. This put a small damper into paying down my wife’s loan as we had to buff up our emergency fund again. The good news I was able to help a friend of mine with programming project and also got a small raise that put us back on track.

In this update I will talk a little about my wife. While she was studying for her Oil and Gas Engineering degree, she worked for a small consulting company for two summers in the row. This company intended to hire her after she graduated.  Unfortunately, with the current state of the energy market in the Alberta (and the rest of the world), the company closed down. After that, my wife carried a dark cloud over her head resembling nothing of the smiling Mrs. SmilingSaver I married. What makes this harder is that she graduated with her first degree in the financial crisis in 2008. As she currently can’t find any work, she has signed up in a temp work office and will start bringing in a bit of money to close the student loan faster.  Some good news though, she scored another grant of $5,000 against her student loan because of her high GPA.

In a nutshell the goal of becoming debt free by the end of the year is becoming a bit of a dream. We were banking on Mrs. SmilingSaver to be working by this time. It does not mean that we are giving up on the idea, we are still frugal and put every extra dollar against the loan.

Goal for the Future:

Some readers are asking what we will be doing when we get out of debt.  We will start off with the Tangerine balanced fund.  After we have saved enough of a lump sum, we will transfer the funds to the TFSA TD e-series funds in a couch potato portfolio. I am also open for the suggesting for starting out saver (books to read and ideas).

Assets: $2,700 (-20%)

  • Cash: $2,700 (-20%)
  • Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) : $0 (0.00%)

Liabilities: $25,425 (-31.8%)

  • Student Loan : $25,425 (-31.8%)

Total Net Worth: ~LOSS: $22,725 (+33.0%)

Some quick notes and explanations to common questions:

The Cash

We have $2,000 as an emergency fund sitting in Tangerine checking account. Currently there is also a portion of my future rent and monthly payments of $700 making the total $2,700


$0 in TFSA. This is no longer the wedding TFSA. The account will be kept so we can start saving a lump sum using Tangerine Balanced Portfolio.

Student Loan

$25,425 is currently with Canada student loans. The interest is high 4.75%, but it does give a tax credit. The moment the balance hits $12,000, I will take advantage of 0% money transfer for 12 month on my credit card. I read through all the fine print. We have to pay 1% of the money transferred up front and pay minimum payments each month to keep the 0%. I think it will be a smart move to keep the interest payment low. Do you think it will be a smart move or I am missing something?

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About the author: This is a guest post. You can read more about the author in the biography above.

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Faisal September 21, 2015, 1:05 pm

    SmilingSaver, I wish the best of success for your debt repayment efforts. Being in Alberta myself, I understand the difficulties of the business cycle that’s prevalent in this province.

    Regarding your plan is the transfer of your loan to the credit card via the 0% money transfer (w/ 1% fee), I wanted to point out two quick caveats. First, if you’re using up your entire credit limit for this transfer, you would no longer be able to make any purchases with the card or use it as a backup in the event that you don’t have cash. However, I’m sure you’ve thought of that already.

    Second, and more importantly, the credit card may not be as forgiving as the loan for late payments. If you miss a payment, you could be charged the full interest on the outstanding amount.

    I would think that you should try getting a loan that has a lower interest rate than 4.75% but not as risky as the 0% offer from the credit card.

  • nobleea September 21, 2015, 1:18 pm

    I don’t think there’s a problem with the credit card balance transfer, as long as you understand it. You have to be absolutely sure that you can pay off that 12K during the year or before the promo period is up. You have to not use that credit card at all during the promo period. Even one charge to it will screw things up. You try and pay off that one charge, and the payment goes to the balance transfer first, not the charge, so you essentially have to pay the whole card off. Assuming you have a second or third credit card already, this shouldn’t be a problem. As pointed out, a late payment will bump the interest rate up to full amount. And for all our connected financial systems, it can take up to 4 business days for payments to show up at MBNA.

    As for the employment situation, well it’s not the easiest right now. Take what you can get. Being underemployed is better than being unemployed. I have a couple friends that refuse to take lower paying jobs, thinking they’re worth more or its below them. Meanwhile, they don’t get ahead financially due to their pride. We regularly hire foreign engineers with masters, and some times PhD’s to act in technologists roles, because that’s all they can get. They’re grateful to get their foot in the door and eventually they get enough experience to make the proper jump.

  • SmilingSaver September 21, 2015, 6:47 pm

    @ Faisal and @nobleea
    Regarding the Credit card – I am thinking of using most of the credit card balance. The moment it goes through the card will not be used for anything else. I do have a different card for everyday use.
    Late payments are not an issue as I will be putting the 500$ from each paycheck against the credit card, ensuring the minimum payment is paid at least twice a month. There is no way to be late when you doing it that way.
    And the entire sum will defiantly be paid before the end of the expiry day.
    She definitely is trying to get anything within the industry: Engineer, Technician, Document Administrator etc. She immigrated to Canada when I did, so pride is shoved to the back sit in most scenarios ?

  • things change September 23, 2015, 9:55 pm

    Your student loan interest is LOW. When I graduated (less than a decade ago), my interest rate was more than double yours (government education loans, not private)!

    You have a good attitude. Keep at it. Eventually, it will work out.

  • Joel September 24, 2015, 1:47 pm

    Not a fan of the credit card transfer either.

    The current loan of < 5% is not "high". I assume you've looked through and determined whether there was a standard 2.5% fee on the transfer (negating a lot of the benefit) and there's a certain level of risk. Remember – the credit card companies don't set up these transfers from the love of their hearts, they know that people screw up. Maybe you send the amount to the wrong account or your bank misses it by a day or so. I've heard of credit companies "misplacing" the payment which caused massive amounts of interest to be levied.

    They aren't your friends. Risking 19% ($4550) to save 4.75% ($1140) is a penny wise, pound foolish sort of move.

  • Michael @ NTPNW September 25, 2015, 12:14 am

    I agree with Joel. I personally would not risk it. When we had school loans some as high as 7% what we did was pay what we could on the school loans. We cut everything out of our lives and used the extra cash to pay off the loans quickly. If your serious about becoming debt free I am sure you can find the way without using a credit card. I would be concerned that if something goes wrong you miss a payment or don’t pay it off within the promo time allotted it just may cost you more.
    Just some food for thought.

  • BeSmartRich September 25, 2015, 1:20 pm

    I wish you all the best getting out of the debt and start accumulating net worth. I think you are on the right track, Keep grinding!



  • Andrew September 26, 2015, 10:24 am

    Great work saver, and make sure you graph your net worth and investments.

    It’s been a great source of pleasure and motivation to go back and look over my financial progress, which was very much in a state like yours some time ago.

  • Alpha Centauri September 27, 2015, 2:59 am

    I agree with Joel and Michael: Don’t bother with the supposed 0% balance transfer onto the credit card! It reeks of desperation. Joel has it bang on: credit card companies don’t do these balance transfers for sh*ts and giggles; they do it because they know a lot of people mess up somewhere. Missed payments are a cash cow for the credit card companies! I know you’ll be aggressive with your payments. I predict you will have all the debt paid this time next year. Just stick with that, in my opinion.

  • Scott September 28, 2015, 5:07 pm

    Don’t bother with the transfer to credit card with your student loan. It’s will only save you a couple hundred bucks and you can’t predict the future anything can happen you might have to miss a couple payments and then the year is up and you are up to 20%.

  • S Arun October 2, 2015, 2:57 pm

    Hey SmilingSaver,

    You are doing exactly what I did with low interest rate credit (mostly 0% to 0.99% for one year). Good luck!

    As long as you pay their minimum payment, you are O.K. Be sure to have some money to paid off entire balance at the end of promo period.

    I started with -$50 000 (yes negative $50 000) net worth to almost $100 000 net worth in 3- 4 years using the balance transfer strategies.

    I built a decent net worth using the balance transfer strategies


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