10 financial success stories from 2016 to inspire your new year

The changing from one year to the next is always when we look to evaluate our past year and dream of what the new year will bring. While I'm not a huge fan of new year's resolutions, I do believe in setting SMART goals to achieve the results you want. Whether it's in your personal life, your career, your business, or your personal finances, you should have a goal to go after.

But what if you don't know what goal you'd like to set? To help, I asked 10 financial experts to share their own financial success stories from 2016. With a great variety of personal successes here, I'm sure you'll find something that resonates with your own situation and inspires you to set a goal to improve your finances in 2017.

Make more money

My biggest financial success in 2016 was increasing my income by 24%. Sometimes when we think about personal finance strategies, we think about watching our spending, reducing debt or saving more. While all of these strategies are solid personal finance strategies, they become easier if we could make more money. For me, I always try to focus some of my time, attention and efforts on the income side of personal finance. I am self-employed which allows me to focus my energy on income producing options but I would argue that everyone has some opportunities to increase income.
– Jim Yih, Retire Happy

Experiences are better than things

My biggest financial success this year relates to my kids. I’m trying to raise children that place more emphasis on experience than stuff. They had over the top, awesome birthday parties. But I didn’t get them a present. They played sports, enjoyed activities, but heard no more often than not when they wanted a new toy from the store. We went to Cuba and had a great family vacation, but brought home more shells and memories than souvenirs. And it culminated in their Christmas list – short and sweet. I don’t want my kids to be materialistic. And thankfully, they don’t seem to care much for material things either.
– Jason Heath, Objective Financial Partners

Become debt free!

My biggest financial success this year was becoming mortgage free (January) and debt free (November). It's been a long journey of cost cutting and frugal living and it was totally worth it. This is the first time in my adult life where I'm not making payments, and the feeling is quite surreal. If you are thinking about going for debt freedom I encourage you to do it. Make a plan and get started!
– Andrew Daniels, Family Money Plan

Buying your first house

Hands down, my biggest financial and life success of 2016 has been becoming a homeowner. I am absolutely a renting advocate, and will continue to be, if you can’t yet afford to buy your own home. However, after years of saving and researching, this year my husband and I finally found a place within our price range and desired neighbourhood that we successfully bought. The best thing is because we were very strategic in our house hunt, our mortgage is the same cost as our rent. So not only are we building equity, our cost of living hasn’t changed that much so we can continue to save for future financial goals and aren’t house-poor by any means.
– Jessica Moorhouse

Improve your mind and body, get more done

My biggest financial success this year is related to following my passion for yoga, and taking time to nurture myself. I decided to take a month off from work, and I spent it at an ashram in Nassau, where I completed my Yoga Teacher Training. It was a month of deep reflection, and connecting mind, body and spirit. The experience was priceless, and one I will never forget. I have found that I now have better focus at work, and as result I am more productive.
– Brenda Hiscock, Objective Financial Partners

Reduce fees with robo-advisors

My biggest financial success of 2016 was finally taking full control of my investments. I sold my remaining high-MER Investors Group mutual funds and invested in low-MER exchange-traded funds through Wealthsimple. Don't let deferred sales charges keep you in a prison of high fees! Sometimes it's worth it to pay the penalties to regain your freedom. Everyone should review their investments annually to make sure they are comfortable with the fees they are paying.
– Beau Humphreys, Invest Wisely

Set your goals and stick to them

Our biggest financial success in 2016 was hitting all our financial goals. We maxed out our Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs), we doubled-up our mortgage payment throughout the year, and we managed to save $5,000 for another international trip. It was great we were able to do a little bit of everything – save for the future, slay mortgage debt and have some fun for today.
– Mark Seed, My Own Advisor

Pay yourself first

If I have to pick one thing, it would have to be more than maxing out our retirement savings accounts (both RRSPs and TFSAs). It’s something we’ve been focusing on yearly and the feeling we get never gets old. I guess you could say we focus on ‘paying our future selves first’.
– Hélène Massicotte, Free To Pursue

Saving with young children

I had a few financial successes in 2016. My wife and I maximized both our RRSP and TFSA. We also received more than $12,500 from various blue-chip dividend paying companies for doing absolutely nothing. We managed to save a higher percentage of income compared to 2015. The biggest success however is the birth of our daughter back in March. With one boy and one girl, we feel our family is now complete.
– Bob Lai, Tawcan

Helping others with their finances

My biggest accomplishment in 2016 was all about people. More than ever, I have witnessed increased anxiety from my clients regarding their financial futures. This is true of those with more than enough as well as those facing retirement shortfalls. It's been a real pleasure empowering clients to take control of their financial lives which has in turn reduced anxiety and provided a greater sense of direction and clarity. The positive feedback I've received in the way of testimonials and client surveys tells me that my efforts are appreciated, which brings me great satisfaction. Looking forward to 2017!
– Nancy Grouni, Objective Financial Partners

Set your own goal for the new year

No matter where you're at in your personal finance journey, one of these success stories should certainly be able to inspire you to set your own goal for 2017. Make sure it's specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and has a timeframe to be accomplished by. Even better, take your big goal for 2017 and break it down into smaller milestones to help keep you on track. My goal for 2017 is to increase my income by 50%, mainly through my online ventures.

What's your goal for the new year?

Written by Tom Drake

Tom Drake is the consumer and credit expert at Retire Happy, sharing his knowledge on the best ways to get the most for your money. Whether it's credit cards, banking products, or travel tips, Tom shares his insight as a financial analyst and as the writer behind the award-winning Canadian Finance Blog.

3 Responses to 10 financial success stories from 2016 to inspire your new year

  1. Hi Tom,

    Loved the post. Great to see so many Canadian bloggers and institutions suceed this year.

    The one that resonated most with me was Beau Humphreys, Invest Wisely regarding moving from high MER investment accounts over to low-MER ETFs. I’ve had a bunch of cash burning a hole in my chequing account for far too long.

    My problem was paralysis by analysis, there were too many different options: managed ETFs, Tangerine, Questrade, etc. that I didn’t know how to begin, so I finally just dumped it all into WealthSimple. While my performance there has been quite poor, I’m glad I finally have it somewhere.

    Overall, though I had a pretty difficult year in my personal life, my financial outlook has never been more clear. Happy New Year all!

  2. As a retired person, 2016 confirmed that I need to get out of the house, get some exercise.

    I just can’t find any motivation to exercise. Period. I tried some things to get out of the house in 2015, but that was short-lived.

    I tried Meals On Wheels. I now deliver 3 days a week and it addresses my exercise and get out of the house issues.

    There were unexpected benefits: feel better physically, feel good about helping people, and compared to others I’m in pretty good shape physically, mentally and financially.

    It was a good year. And I will continue Meals On Wheels in 2017.

    Money? I have more than in 2015 and the monthly income and portfolio values are increasing. That will also continue in 2017 just as it has for the last 15 years or so: but it’s taking less and less time to monitor and getting a little bit boring.

    Prosper, everyone, in all the ways you choose.

  3. Lots of great stories there. I’m impressed with the guy who increased his income by 24%. Increasing your income is usually a lot harder than increasing your savings. 24% is a nice sized increase

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