Oct 242016

 What $300,000,000,000,000 Look Like

All $ amount in today’s post is in US dollars.

What would you buy if you had all the money in the world? According to British news site The Independent, the total amount of financial assets in the world is around $300 trillion. This is the total value for all the equities and fixed income, including company shares and both private and government bonds, plus all the other securities we can invest in. This $300 trillion does not include real estate or any derivatives.

If we had $300 trillion all in $5 bills and laid them out on the ground in a single layer, they would take up about as much space as all of Alberta.


If we had a way to stack all these $5 bills one on top of another, the stack would measure 1.6 million km or 1 million miles high! Wow. That’s literally out of this world. 😀 That’s enough distance to cover a round trip to the moon and back, twice! By the way, have you guys heard about the new restaurant on the moon? The food isn’t bad. But there’s no atmosphere. 😄

Anyway, let’s take a look at how the allocation of financial assets in the world has changed over time. According to the MarketWatch chart below, it appears every type of asset class has become more valuable since 10 years ago.


As we can see, the stock market is the most volatile. Stocks lost nearly half of their global value during the financial crisis of 2008. However the graph also shows that equities do recover over time. This is why we should not sell our stocks in a bear market. In fact, lower asset prices may present an opportunity to average down and buy more stocks. 🙂

We can also see that the allocations haven’t changed much over time, with the exception of public debt securities. A lot of demand for public debt comes from Central Banks as they attempt to stimulate the economy. The act of quantitative easing creates trillions of dollars of wealth, but disproportionately benefits investors. That’s why the value of financial assets since 2008 has increased tremendously, but average income in the U.S. has not. Instead of working hard to get ahead, many investors like myself have increased our wealth by simply riding on the backs of central bank policies.


Central planners around the world will likely continue to print money for the foreseeable future. As the global population ages we can expect even more demand for fixed income securities. Dividend paying stocks will also be popular as investors look for higher yielding alternatives to bonds. The total value of financial assets in the world should continue to increase going forward.

$300 trillion divided by 7.5 billion people who are alive today means each person’s fair share is $40,000. This means accumulating $400,000 of financial assets would give us 10 times what the average person has. This is a respectable level of financial stability that can cover years of living expenses in case of long term unemployment or disability. Having $800,000 in financial assets represents 20 times the average. This would be enough for one person to claim financial independence, assuming the person knows how to manage his or her finances properly. 😉

Random Useless Fact:


Oct 202016

Debt Isn’t Bad

Private debt was invented to facilitate convenience in trade. This principle was widely accepted for most of human history. But things have changed in the 21st century. Today, many generic debt bloggers will rant about how much they hate debt with a passion and want to pay off their debts ASAP. They seem to be very debt-icated to their cause. 😛 But why would they go into debt on purpose, and then become so upset about being in debt? 😠 Isn’t that exactly what they wanted?


We don’t borrow money and pay interest to a bank out of the kindness of our hearts. Instead, I believe most of us go into debt for one simple reason; to increase our own standards of living. We take on debt because we are motivated by self interest. 🙂

Would we go into $500 of debt to buy a football? Probably not, unless it’s one that’s autographed by Lionel Messi. 😉 But how about taking on $500 of debt to experience a 3 week, all-inclusive trip to the Great Barrier Reef? Heck yes, I sure would!

If our objective or desire is worth more to us than the cost of borrowing then using debt is preferable.

If it’s not worth the debt then we don’t borrow. The same can be said for practicing mindful spending. It’s really quite simple. 😀

Nobody can force consumers to use debt. It’s possible to go through life without using debt at all. But relying on savings alone to make every purchase means losing out on choices, and opportunities. By the time a saver accumulates enough cash to start college, all his friends who used student loan debt to get ahead would already be graduating. Why would anyone want to commit to a debt free life if it means depriving themselves of opportunities? This is why I concluded that I will probably never be debt free.

Of course it’s completely possible to have too much debt, just like it’s possible to overwork ourselves. But we should all learn from our mistakes and move on. Much like being mindful of our purchases, we should be mindful of where we should be on the debt spectrum.

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Oct 172016

So Long, Air Canada Bonds

Earlier this year I purchased some Air Canada bonds for $5,305, with an attractive coupon of 7.625% annual interest rate. Very nice! They weren’t suppose to mature until 2019. However Air Canada decided to be a jerk and redeem them early at the beginning of this month. So all the bonds were bought back, including mine.


As we can see, I lost $305 on my principal amount. However I’ve collected more money back from interest payments. So overall I still came out with a small profit. This concludes my first junk bond investment. I wasn’t able to earn the attractive return all the way to the end as I hoped, but at least I didn’t lose any money. 😀

Anyway, redeeming the bonds means Air Canada returned the $5,000 cash back into my RRSP account. 🙂 So I used the money to purchase 2 relatively defensive stocks, Boardwalk REIT and Enbridge Inc. The stock market reached a new high this year and it’s been over 8 years since a major correction so I believe we are overdue for a pull back any day now. Both Boardwalk REIT and Enbridge generate stable cash flow so they are more resistant to market corrections than most other stocks.


Boardwalk REIT – New Addition to my Retirement Portfolio

I purchased 60 units of Boardwalk REIT (BEI.UN) at $50.56 each. The total came to $3,043.59 including commissions.

I like REITs because they own and operate properties, and pass on the profits to their unit holders. This means investors can make money in the growing real estate industry without all the hassle of dealing with tenants. 🙂 Boardwalk specializes in multi-family residential properties.


Normally we determine the value of a stock based on its earnings, but in the real estate business we use funds from operations (or FFO) instead to measure a company’s performance. According to Boardwalk’s forward guidance the company expects its annual FFO to be in the $3.20 per unit range. This gives BEI.UN an equivalent earnings yield of about 6.4%. Which translates to a P/E ratio of about 16x. To me 6.4% isn’t a bad return in today’s market. 🙂


Boardwalk owns property across the country, but about half of its portfolio sits in Alberta, including some in Fort McMurray. Alberta is struggling due to the unfortunate wildfires this year and the continuous low price of oil. Calgary’s unemployment rate last month was 9.5%. Ouch! 🙁 As a result BEI.UN is down 10% compared to a year ago. However, I believe this is a good opportunity to get in before the REIT recovers. Oil has already bounced off the bottom. And forest fire season is over. A lot of people are pessimistic about Alberta’s economy. But I think their concerns are overblown.

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Oct 132016

Slow and Steady

A reader recently asked for a farmland update. So here’s the latest. I’m collecting $8,500 a year from my tenant who is growing canola on my 310 acres of farmland. He pays me twice a year, half the total amount in the spring and the other half in the fall. Here’s the latest cheque that I deposited into my bank account last week. This amount includes 5% GST.


My farmland loan outstanding is about $193,000. The interest rate is 3.4%. Property tax was about $1,500 this year. No insurance or other cost is necessary for owning farmland. So my total expenses came to $8,100. I’m rounding these numbers to the nearest $100.

Thus I’m able to make a $400 profit on my farmland in 2016. Slowly but surely, the financials are improving each year. 🙂


I think farmland returns are starting to dry up in North America. Commodity prices still haven’t recovered. So unless crop receipts increase by a substantial amount it’s hard to see any reason for the underlying land to become more valuable. Maybe farmland will continue to keep pace with inflation for the foreseeable future so it’s still a good store of wealth, but I don’t see much more appreciation from here.

It’s too bad the Canadian prairies is so cold. Many plants like hemp can’t grow out there. Since marijuana will soon be legalized there will probably be a lot of new cannabis growers by this time next year. Not to be blunt, 😄 but this obviously creates opportunity for investors too. For example, last year I blogged about buying some shares in Canopy Growth Corp, a supplier of medicinal marijuana. So far the stock has doubled in price! Not bad. 😀

Free eBook Download

Maybe I just got lucky with that marijuana stock. You shouldn’t get your investment advice from an amateur finance blog anyway. 😉 But my acquaintance David Chilton, who runs his own financial planning business is more than qualified to offer quality advice. I use the term “acquaintance” loosely because we’ve only corresponded by email a couple of times. 😛 Anyway, he’s teamed up with Tangerine bank to give away the eBook edition of his latest work, The Wealthy Barber Returns. 


If you’re interested, just go to this Tangerine page and use one of the download links on the right. I’ve read the paperback before and recommend it for anyone who likes personal finance. The book covers a lot of core investing topics like index funds and the stock market. You can download it to your computer, or mobile device. It also supports the Kindle App. Enjoy! 😀

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Oct 102016

Investing in a Brighter Future


The Easiest $300 I’ll Make This Year

Hello eco-conscious friends! I recently discovered a way to earn $300 in interest/year by using leverage and low interest rates. 🙂 For those who are interested in the details, here’s how it’s done.

  • Step 1: Borrow $10,000 from the bank at 3% annual interest rate.
  • Step 2: Download the online SolarShare purchase form.
  • Step 3: Fill out the form with instructions to invest $10,000 in bonds that pay 6% annual interest.
  • Step 4: Send the completed form back to SolarShare and start collecting net interest of $300/year. 🙂

That’s all there is to it. 🙂 Simple right? Once I made my decision to go for it the entire process only took about 30 minutes.

What I essentially did was borrow money at 3% to buy an investment that pays 6%. This means my net investment return is 3% pre tax. All the investment capital comes from someone else so I don’t have to spend a dime myself. This is the easiest way I know how to make $300, lol.

But of course just because this strategy works for me doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone else. So in today’s post I will discuss how my new investment works and why I chose to buy it. If you don’t yet believe in solar energy, maybe this post will help you warm up to the idea, haha. 😉 But please do additional research on your own and consult with a professional before making any financial decisions.

An investor who uses $10,000 of savings to buy these bonds would make the full 6% return since there would be no cost of debt. I didn’t use my savings for this investment because my money is earmarked to make another big purchase later this month.

Why Invest in Solar Energy

Sustainability is very important to me. This is because I love bacon, lobster, steak, sea bass, and all things delicious. Animals require a sustainable habitat to live and grow. But if there is too much pollution then entire ecosystems or farms where animals live could be destroyed. I simply cannot allow that happen.

So as you can see, investing in renewable energy is a matter that’s very close to my heart. 😆 And we are lucky here in Canada where we receive a decent amount of sunshine throughout the year, unlike some other parts of the world.


I had previously wrote about how to invest in renewable energy. Not only is it environmentally responsible, but it can also be quite profitable. My investment last year in Brookfield Renewable is now up by 12%, including dividends, which is not too shabby. 🙂 But this time I ventured into the world of alternative investments to directly invest in solar energy projects.

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