Personal finance

Ever since the day I opened up my very first RRSP account, I became interested in saving money. Even today, I am curious about personal finance. I read personal finance blogs, visit websites that help you save money and even listen to podcasts.

After I graduated from high school, I needed to find a job to help pay for my college education. I applied for the Ontario Student Assistant Program (OSAP) but they did not help me much. According to my application, my father made enough to pay for my tuition so they would only give me enough for a semester. At the time, I had no choice but to find a part-time job if I wanted to continue my education.

In hindsight, being denied full tuition assistant was a good thing. It forced me to find work and gain some experience and it helped me become financially independent. As a young adult coming right out of high school and going into adulthood, there are things that they do not teach you in school. Even to this day, I do not know if they teach kids how to be financially responsible. A lot of the financial habits and skills that I have now, I learned along the way.

During the summer of 1999, I applied for a part-time job and was hired on by Burger King. Before being hired, I had made a decision that I would not work in fast food. I don’t recall the reason I made that decision but as the summer came, I convince myself that find a job in fast food would be the easiest thing for a student to do, given that I had no prior work experience.

With a part-time job at Burger King, starting off at $6.25/hr, I was on my way to saving for college. One day, when I went into the bank to make a withdrawal, the teller asked if I wanted to start an RRSP. I had no idea what an RRSP was but since it had something to do with savings, I signed up for one. I was not making a lot at Burger King so I started out small by depositing $25 a month into my RRSP account. Little did I know that it helped me during tax season. This was back in the day when tax software wasn’t easily accessible so I had to do my taxes my hand, which I highly recommend you do if it’s your first time doing you taxes.

Anyway, over the years, my RRSP grew. I made an effort to increase my RRSP contribution as my pay went up. I increased my contribution from $25 a month to $25 per pay. Then when I found a higher paying job, I increased it even more. I am now up to $75 per pay. The odd times, I will throw in a few extra bucks here and there. Surprisingly enough, this year I didn’t even realize that I doubled my contribution. It wasn’t until I received the tax receipt that I saw what I had done. It’s no wonder I hardly have extra money lying around. Not that I am complaining about contributing more. It’s always wise to put money away.

For the last couple of weeks or so, I’ve had time to take a closer look at my finances. I am not sure of my exact return on investment for my RRSP accounts but I decided that I should save some more. I’ve recently started hearing about couch potato portfolios and was interested in starting my own. There’s a lot out there to choose from but I went with ING Direct’s Streetwise portfolios. I started off by investing $200 in the Streetwise Equity Growth portfolio and if I understand the cough potato method correct, I should just let it sit. I will be keeping a close eye on this portfolio as I am very curious about how it will work.

I am sure that there are lots more things to do to increase my network but I am going to start out slow. Once I am comfortable and know what I am doing, I will start to be more aggressive with my savings. Hopefully, I am on the right path to financial freedom.