From the Readers

Family Sacrifices For Financial Freedom Pays Off

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I want to earn money fast, I want to earn money now, I want financial freedom so I don’t have to worry about money down the road. There are people who constantly strive to set goals, budget, work long hours at home or away from home to make sure their retirement years are golden.

What this means is that the family will make sacrifices to achieve such financial goals sometimes at an unbalanced cost. Is it really worth being away from your family for 6 or 7 days a week?

For the past 2 years I’ve been that guy who is working 6-7 days a week at two full-time jobs. One is my dream job that is currently contract and the other is full-time in my field of expertise but on a different playing field. What keeps me going is my family and the fact that I can retire early if I want to and with a defined benefits package, investments and no mortgage. That fuels the frugal fire.

Related: How to retire early- A Beginners Guide to Early Retirement

As a young family with a toddler it has been tough for all 3 of us especially our little guy who has a short meltdown each time he sees me leave for work. For this reason I try to sneak out without him seeing me just to keep the peace. It’s only when I come home that his whole world lights up.

I want you to know that I don’t do this just for the money. I do this because I want to secure that dream job in a full-time permanent role and to achieve that financial freedom I have to give up some of my own.

This doesn’t mean that I come home and ignore my family, no. I’m still a husband, I’m still a dad and I still have responsibilities around the house not to mention this blog. I wasn’t looking for passive income opportunities when I started the blog but who knows in the future if it will continue to be an income source for our family. To be honest it’s far from passive as I put LOTS of hours into the blog but it’s certainly something I enjoy doing and keeps me grounded.

With a tight timeline I manage to almost get everything done every day. There are days I am exhausted so I tell my social media fans that I am turning in early. Other times I just don’t feel like doing the laundry so I wait another day or so. We survive and you know what, we’re still all smiling and functioning as a normal family.

It’s not a get rich scheme it’s a trade your way to financial freedom system. There will always be give and take with anything we do. My point is that although it may be tough to do sometimes we have to make sacrifices to get further in life whether it be time away, long hours or an extra job. If you can see the light at the end of the tunnel or hope that your hard work will pay off then don’t risk looking back and saying you wish you did something.

The most important thing you have to do is take time out for yourself and to balance your time with your family. That may mean when you come home you’re tired but you still read to your kids, play hide and seek, shoot some hoops, bake cookies, bathe them or tuck them in at night. If you have older kids make time to do something with them to show them that you are always there for them even if you are busy trying to make a brighter future for yourself and the kids.

Don’t forget about your husband or wife too. Watch a tv program or just turn off all technology and talk, cuddle, go for a walk and do the things that couples do but with less hours to do it. Sometimes it’s simply the small gestures and things that loved ones do that mean the most. Ignoring them means you are setting your family life up for disaster, job or no job, money or no money that is never worth it.

You will never regret trying but you’ll always regret these four words,”I wish I had”.

Today, I have a story to share with you that a fan emailed me about financial freedom and the sacrifices her family had to make over the years. When I read her story I immediately connected with it on many levels since our family is going through something similar. What I did notice was the similarities in how they manage their money to our budgeting system. It has worked so well for us that I hope you give it a try as well.

These sacrifices are going to pay off very shortly and whether you think it would work for you, it works for them and it’s working for us even though it can be tough at times. Even if both parents work it’s not easy to have a work-life balance but we all make do.


Financial Freedom and family sacrifices through the eyes of a wife, mother and nurse


Dear CBB,

In our quest for financial freedom, we have sacrificed quite a bit of family time. That was the hardest thing for our family but we survived. I just don’t particularly enjoy the feeling that for a great deal of our married life I have done a lot of the parenting myself.

My husband works many hours leaving me at home to take care of just about everything. He works at least a 12 hour day, 6 days a week, very occasionally 7 days.  He comes home around 7pm, sometimes later, has something to eat, talks to the kids, hits the treadmill, we watch Steve Paikin on TVO, then he helps our son get ready for bed and he is sleeping by 9:30 pm.

He gets up at 4:15 am and starts the same routine all over again. Is it worth it?  He feels it is, especially when he can retire comfortably in 4 more years once he has his 30 years in. He will have a comfortable pension of approximately $36,000 a year which we will top up with our savings which we have worked hard to accumulate over the years. But, looking at just the numbers, I have to agree with him.

A bit about us. We are both 52 years old and have been married for 22 years. My husband is a Professional Engineer and I am a Registered Nurse, although I gave up working in 2001 to stay home with the kids.

We have 2 children where our son is 20 years old  and has multiple disabilities. Our daughter is 17 years old and in Grade 11. Our son will never be independent and will be with us probably until we are old and grey. Our daughter will be going to University or College in 18 months. She wants to be a Social Worker and work in Mental Health.

While we live in Canada, my husband was transferred to the US side of the border 18 years ago or so. He commutes back and forth over the border every day. I used to work as a Nurse in the United States as well.  That happens a lot where we live which makes things interesting come income tax time.


Current Net Worth


We have accumulated a net worth of $950,000 up to this point in our lives. That doesn’t include our house or our cars. My husband feels that since we have to live somewhere and drive something he doesn’t include it in our net worth calculations.

We have no debt at all and our $40,000 loan to buy our current house was paid off 13 years ago. It was more of a personal loan than an actual mortgage. We took it out for a four year term and paid it off on time. We drive a 2004 minivan that we bought used in 2005 (it was an executive lease turn in) and my vehicle is a 2007 PT Cruiser which we bought used a couple of years ago for $7000. We paid cash for both vehicles because my husband hates car loans with a passion.

When we bought our first house back in 1994, we paid about $130,000 for it. It was in the county outside of town and it sat on an acre of land. There were corn fields across the street and neighbours on either side. I loved that house. It was a 1970 ranch with 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, kitchen, living room, and an unfinished basement. When we bought it my husband wrote a cheque for it, no mortgage required.

Related: How we paid our mortgage off in 5 years

My husband is a saver and he likes to save a lot because financial freedom is what he’s striving for. He graduated University with zero debt and money in the bank. He continued to live at home with his parents (and paid them rent) until we were married in 1994. He worked a lot of overtime during that time period and he attempted to complete an MBA degree part-time as well.

Related: How to track your overtime hours

That came to an end when our son was born prematurely and with resulting disabilities. I had returned to school for a second degree in Nursing when we met. Our dates consisted of studying in the library on Sunday afternoons and going to a nearby Taco Bell for dinner.

When we married after I graduated the only debt we had was mine, $9000 in student loans and a small car loan. I took a nursing job in Michigan. Within a couple of years my loans were gone, we were making quite a lot of money for a young couple (the exchange rate was really good in 1994ish) and we were banking a good portion of his salary and all of mine.

Related: How to pay your student loans fast

Our current house is a raised ranch with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. We bought this house because it would have cost a lot to renovate the old house to be accommodating for a child with a disability. It cost $217,500 when we bought our current home back in 1999.

I really don’t know what it would sell for today since we do not have plans to downsize for the foreseeable future. We used the proceeds from the sale of our first house, savings and a personal loan to purchase our second house and the loan was paid off in 4 years.

And that was it for our debt.


Where does all our money go?


So for Income, my husband currently brings home around $9000.00 US a month (including overtime) after deductions. We then convert almost all of it to Canadian funds. I keep a balance of $5000USD at the beginning of the month in our US funds account at our Canadian Bank.

My Husband uses a US funds credit card from Toronto Dominion Canada Trust to pay for the bridge toll to the US and he gasses up in the States because it’s cheaper. He also does some grocery shopping at Aldi’s on the way home once a week if he can get out of work on time. Mostly milk and bread but the savings all go towards the financial freedom we crave. Right now the exchange rate is favourable so we get a nice boost in his monthly income when the rest is moved into our chequing account.

I allow for $7500 to be spent each month in our budget. Anything above that get sent off to the high interest savings account that we have with Tangerine Banking. Out of the $7500, I move $2500 into a savings account at the beginning of the month for investing.

I put$185 into another account to pay for OHIP on the income tax and our life insurance premiums. Then I put $254.21 into another bank account for our car and house insurance premium which we pay once a year in the fall.

Related: How projected expenses accounts work and why you need them

I also move $500 into a vacation/special purpose fund. When our old van died at the ripe age of 20, the money came out of here to buy my PT cruiser for $7000. The cruiser was not my  idea of a good looking car but my son can manage to get from his walker into the front passenger seat by himself because it has built in grab bars and that makes it the best darn car in the world.

If he moves out and I can still drive by then, I am getting a charger. Used of course. What is left gets spent on the everyday costs related to living. I look and see what expenses are expected that month and map out what is going to go into each category. At the end of the month whatever is left over sits there in case we are short the next month or I move it into savings if the balance in the chequing account is high.


Check out our Family Budget Numbers


These are our Budget categories and amounts:

  • Cellphones:  40/month (Mine is pay as you go, my daughter’s is $28.50 per month)
  • Car: 300/month
  • Donations: 150/month
  • Entertainment: 40/month
  • Groceries: 900/month
  • Household: 200/month
  • Medical:  100/month
  • Personal Care: 100/month
  • RDSP : 170/month  This is the Registered Disability Savings plan for my son.
  • RESP: 170/month
  • Husbands tolls and gas: 300/month
  • Recreation: 180/month
  • Clothes: 100/month  The kids wear uniforms to school. Best idea ever.
  • Utilities land line 30 /month; internet :87/month;  Gas 150/month;  Electricity: 150/month; Water 75/month
  • Allowances for the three of us: 200/month. Daughter gets $15/month the adults get the rest. Our son gets Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) so that covers his needs.


Our freedom investing style


So our net worth is $950,000 not including house and cars. We use a combination of GICs, cash, stocks, and now index funds in our retirement savings. We hold these in our TFSAs, RRSPs, and non-registered investment accounts. While some funds are with an investment advisor, most are not.

My husband enjoys managing his investing accounts on his owns. He also has a 401K plan through work in addition to the defined benefits pension he will receive upon retirement. His employer matches a certain percentage of his contribution into the 401K so he maximizes that.

I regret that he hasn’t been around as much as what I or the kids would have liked. He regrets it too but he has a good relationship with the kids and we are on solid footing as well.

When she was younger, my daughter looked at her friends going to Disney at Christmas and going on cruises every March Break and wondered why we didn’t do that or have a bigger house and really nice cars…even my sister made comments.


I am happy with our life


We don’t have to worry, we sleep well at night.

This March break I took my daughter to visit London, England. We have friends there and they invited us to come. My husband took the week off and stayed home with our son, while we had a great week touring London on foot and by tube.

Other than a $400 CDN visa bill from the Harry Potter Studio Tour gift shop, everything was paid for in cash. I came home with pounds in my wallet. We had a great time as a splurge once in a good long while is a good thing, as long as you can pay for it with incurring debt.

There is no bragging here either as it’s about spreading the word that you can achieve goals even in the face of unpredictable situations like we did. Thanks for reading our story and I hope it inspires others to follow your dreams and work though what life throws at you even if everyone else is doing something different. Don’t forget to LOVE.

CBB Fan!

What sacrifices have you made for financial freedom in your life?

Do you have a story you’d like to share on CBB? Email me at canadianbudgetbinder @ yahoo .ca (i leave spaces in the email so I don’t get spam but it’s all one email) and we can chat about your story idea.

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  1. When our children were young my husband and I worked opposite shifts. He worked Monday to Friday days and I worked nights, weekends and holidays. It was a sacrifice for my husband and I because we did not get a lot of time together. It was great for our children because there was usually a parent at home. We saved money because our children seldom had to go to daycare. The growing up years flew by and our children are grown now. My husband and I are now able to catch up and spend tons of time together. We have built up a nice nest egg for retirement and I am sure that having to pay thousands of dollars for daycare helped.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story Carrie 🙂 You are not along as many couples work opposite shifts like this to save on sitter costs but most of all to have a parent home all the time. What are some of the things you both do now that you didn’t have a chance to back then? Will you retire early?

      1. We love to walk and ride our bikes together. We visit the farmer’s market and have a museum membership. We also just love hanging out in the backyard together. Sometimes it feels like we are dating again 🙂 We’ve been doing some traveling and plan one big trip a year. We are planning to semi-retire at when we are 53 and 55 (I will continue work on a casual basis so we can fund more travel). We plan to fully retire by 58/60 (if everything goes as planned).

  2. I agree! It feels so good that I have had less debt, something manageable, for so many months and able to sleep well as I don’t have to be stressed over unpaid bills and other related debts such as mortgage. I think one important factor that made me achieve this state is my habits. Habits are really very influential. If you want to be financially stable, I think you could start with changing your habits.

  3. Sometimes the sacrifices we make are really hard day to day but when you look back it’s all worth it. As long as these sacrifices are done for the right reasons. Everyone has their own path to walk but there is not point in busting your hump working all the time if you don’t savour the downtime and enjoy the moments that you have. You seem to be finding the balance.

    1. That’s just it. I have to find that balance and there are days I don’t but I know this won’t last forever. I think the reader that sent in her post has been going through it for a long time now which I bet is difficult as we’ve felt the struggle BUT for them it works. Thanks for your comment Sarah. Mr.CBB

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