Jun 192019
 

Dale Jackson retired at the age of 55. He didn’t win the lottery or start his own successful business. He just worked and saved diligently throughout his career as a media journalist, most recently known for writing investment articles for BNN Bloomberg.

He explains how he achieved early retirement in a recent interview. Here are some highlights below.

  • Keep an eye out for opportunities

Jackson explains that “opportunities come along for every generation.” Most of the time economic recessions are seen as bad times. But it’s actually an opportunity to speed up the retirement process. Asset values are down so we can buy more stocks at a discount. Interest rates are low so we can pay down the mortgage faster. Another example he points to was in 2011 where the Canadian dollar was worth more than the U.S. dollar. That doesn’t happen often. So with the suggestion of his financial advisor Jackson sold CAD to buy USD and that was one of the best currency trades any Canadian could have made during this past decade.

  • Diversify your holdings

Speaking of buying US dollars. It’s not enough to simply hold other currencies. We have to keep our money constantly working. Jackson says that Canada isn’t big enough to make up a diversified portfolio. But the United States is. 🙂 Buying U.S. companies in USD is highly recommended, especially when TFSA and RRSP allow for US dollar accounts. He uses the following graph to explain how over the past 10 years the resource-heavy Canadian stock market index (TSX Composite) has advanced only 55% while the S&P 500 in the U.S. has more than tripled in value! Uh oh. Poor Canadians.

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Jun 032019
 

There’s an old saying about sell in May and go away that highlights the historical underperformance of the stock market during the summer months compared to the generally better performance during the other half of the year. If investors use the sell and May and go away strategy, they would sell their stock portfolio in May, and reinvest everything again in the fall. Some people find this strategy more rewarding than staying in the market throughout the entire year.

This old adage does have some historical evidence backing it up. And it’s certainly relevant today if this year is any indication. Most stocks in my portfolio fell in May, as did other people. U.S. stocks were hit the hardest. It was the worst May since 2010. Even my European index fund dropped a few percentage points.

The beginning of a correction?

It’s hard to say if the stock market will continue to slide further going forward. But I don’t believe selling shares is a good strategy right now. Instead I continue to believe that a basket of medium term bonds can help provide stability in a portfolio when the stock market has no clear trend. The BMO bond fund I wrote about last month is one example of this simple approach. It climbed in value during May when most stock funds experienced a loss. If the equity market continues to fall throughout the summer, at least I’ll have some bonds to help counteract that negative impact. 🙂

Another winning asset class last month was cryptocurrency. 🙂 Bitcoin’s value jumped 50% to roughly $8,500 US per coin. I sold all of mine a couple of years ago but this is great news for anyone who still holds BTC or altcoins.

stock investors eyeing bitcoin and cryptocurrency jealous girlfriend meme

Although my investment portfolio took a net loss last month, I received a lot of extra income. I collected $5,300 in rent. I also received about $4,000 from the government. This is because last year I worked 5 different jobs. Each one had deducted too much payroll and income tax from my paycheques because they all assumed I was only working for them, and that I was going to be employed year round. Well I’m no longer working at 3 of those jobs anymore so that’s why I was owed some tax credits. 🙂

Overall my net worth remained pretty much unchanged from the previous month.

Liquid’s Financial Update

*Side Incomes: = $7,900

  • Part time job =$700
  • Freelance = $300
  • Dividends =$800
  • Interest = $800
  • Farm rent = $5300

*Discretionary Spending: = $2,400

  • Food = $400
  • Miscellaneous = $700
  • Interest expense = $1300

*Net Worth: (ΔMoM)

  • Total Assets: = $1,335,200 (-18,000)
  • Cash = $2,600 (-8800)
  • Canadian stocks = $171,100 (-3900)
  • U.S. stocks = $125,400 (-6400)
  • U.K. stocks = $21,800 (-700)
  • Retirement = $131,300 (+1000)
  • Mortgage Funds = $35,900 (+500)
  • P2P Lending = $35,100 (+300)
  • Home = $367,000 (assessed land value)
  • Farms = $445,000
  • Total Debts: = $392,400 (-17,900)
  • Mortgage = $188,000 (-400)
  • Farm Loans = $165,700 (-12500)
  • Margin Loans = $38,700 (-5000)

*Total Net Worth = $942,800 (-$100)
All numbers are in $CDN at 0.74/USD

 

I was able to renew my farm loan in May. But the interest rate went up and the best I could get was 5.04%, which is a bit higher than I expected. So I decided to make a lump sum payment of $12,000 towards the balance. I also paid down some margin debt in anticipation of a potential major stock market correction. Luckily I had enough savings in my bank account to pay down these debts thanks to the abundance of income that I received during the month.

If investments don’t go down once in awhile there wouldn’t be opportunities to buy on the dips. 🙂 But hopefully things will be better in June.

 

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Random Useless Fact:

According to HuffPost, men and women generally have different types of dreams.

Men’s dreams tend to consist of:
Strangers, success or failure
Sex with unknown partners
Physical aggression
Cars and roads
Violence
Shorter dreams
Less color
Competition

Women’s dreams tend to consist of:
Family members, relationships
Kissing, flirting with someone, or sex with someone known to the woman
Verbal aggression
Emotional expression
Loss of loved ones
Longer dreams
More color
Conversation

May 212019
 

Farmers are feeling the pain

Last year Canadian farmers couldn’t grow enough canola to satiate China’s appetite. About 40% of Canada’s canola exports go to China every year. In 2018 that worked out to about $3.8 billion. But it all changed this year after Canadian officials detained Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese tech company Huawei, due to an extradition request from the U.S. government.

In March, China started to ban shipments of Canadian canola on the grounds they’re plagued with pests, even though Canadian authorities say they’ve received no evidence to support that claim. Unfortunately the trade war and political shenanigans between the U.S. and China have affected households around the world, including Canadians. Our farmers in Saskatchewan are in trouble. They’re caught up in a global conflict between the two largest economies in the world, that has nothing to do with them. I canola imagine what they’re going through. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced financial aid for canola farmers. But it’s not a proper long term solution.

value of major exports from Canada to China

Major export products Canada shipped to China in 2018.

 

But canola isn’t the only export facing bans in China. Canadian peas and soybeans also have restrictions. And earlier this month, China suspended imports from two major Canadian pork producers over paperwork issues. According to the Canadian Pork Council the suspensions appear to stem from a labelling problem and are not tied to any political moves by China. But some people think that excuse is complete hogwash. 🙂 It’s ironic that China is currently experiencing a major pork shortage due to swine fever. The country could lose up to 200 million pigs to disease during the epidemic. To put that into perspective that’s about 3 times the pig population in the U.S. :0 And yet China still refuses to buy our pork. But that’s because China is so big, it can afford to cut off its snout to spite its face. It doesn’t need Canadian bacon because it can import it from other countries.

 

Farm prices rose modestly last year

The new farmland values have been published by Farm Credit Canada. It appears the average value of Canadian farmland increased 6.6% last year. That’s down from 8.4% in 2017 but at least it’s still going up. 🙂 Quebec had the highest increase, while Nova Scotia actually saw a decline.

It’s nice to prices continue to rise for farmland almost across the country. By contrast, Canada’s housing market fell about 5%  in 2018, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA.) But maybe farmland prices naturally lag the residential market? It would be interesting to how prices change in next year’s value report. 🙂

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May 062019
 

Another Strong Month for Stocks

The age of monetary tightening is on pause, at least for now. Central banks have pumped the brakes on increasing interest rates. This has been great for the U.S. and Canadian stock markets, which have both hit new highs in April. But does that mean it’s time to sell and take profits?

Probably not. It’s really hard to predict market movements, and record high stock prices can continue to climb higher before starting to fall. So I’ve opted to go for another strategy; Park some savings in bonds and wait for a better opportunity to jump into stocks again. 🙂

So at the end of last month I used about $25K of my cash savings in my RRSP to purchase 1500 units of BMO Mid Corporate Bond Index ETF (ZCM.)

It has a 3.2% yield, so I shall be earning an additional $67/month of investment income going forward. Not a big change, but better than nothing. 😀 The cash in my RRSP to make this investment came from my old work pension. I transferred the money to my personal retirement account after I was let go.

Liquid’s Financial Update

*Side Incomes: = $2,800

  • Part time job =$700
  • Freelance = $500
  • Dividends =$800
  • Interest = $800

*Discretionary Spending: = $2,300

  • Food = $400
  • Miscellaneous = $500
  • Interest expense = $1400

*Net Worth: (ΔMoM)

  • Total Assets: = $1,353,200 (+13,100)
  • Cash = $11,400 (-800)
  • Canadian stocks = $175,000 (+3600)
  • U.S. stocks = $131,800 (+7200)
  • U.K. stocks = $22,500 (+800)
  • Retirement = $130,300 (+1500)
  • Mortgage Funds = $35,400 (+500)
  • P2P Lending = $34,800 (+300)
  • Home = $367,000 (assessed land value)
  • Farms = $445,000
  • Total Debts: = $410,300 (-700)
  • Mortgage = $188,400 (-400)
  • Farm Loans = $178,200 (-400)
  • Margin Loans = $43,700 (+100)

*Total Net Worth = $942,900 (+$13,800 / +1.5%)
All numbers are in $CDN at 0.75/USD

 

I’m not selling any stocks because despite the uncertain direction in the relatively volatile equity market I’m still earning nearly $1,000 in dividends every month, and I don’t want to sacrifice real dividend income for a hypothetical crash that may not happen in the near future. So it makes sense to buy some fixed income assets such as the corporate bond fund, ZCM. My intent is to hold ZCM for the 3.2% annual interest income. Then sell this fund, and replace it with stocks once the stock market goes into a correction. 🙂

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Apr 292019
 

Earlier this year hedge fund manager Ray Dalio gave 3 financial recommendations for millennials in an interview.

His first recommendation is to focus on savings, and to think about how many months of living expenses your savings can get you through. Savings, explains Dalio, is “freedom and security.” Savings can also provide you with opportunities. If you need to further your education, start a new business, or invest in a discounted asset, it’s easier if you have extra money. If you can accumulate enough savings to last you for the next 300 months then you can be considered financially independent. 🙂

Dalio’s next advice is about what to do with your savings. He says “it’s important to realize that the least risky investment that you can make, which is cash, is also the worst investment you can make over time. You can judge that by comparing the rate of inflation to the after tax rate of return you will earn.” So if inflation is 2%, and you’re only making 1% on your cash investment then you are actually losing purchasing power and getting poorer. “So you have to move into other assets that will do better over a longer period of time.” This is why some people like myself don’t have a cash emergency fund.

The last advice Dalio gives is a bit of surprise to me. Instead of going with the mainstream and buying an index fund, he suggests that millennials should do the opposite of what their instinct tells them to do. This can be emotionally difficult to pull off. The market reflects the crowd and your instincts will usually lead you to do the same thing the crowd is doing. But herd mentality won’t get you any further than the rest of the herd. So you want to buy when no one else wants to buy. Famous investor Warren Buffett has a similar saying: “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” The best way to approach this last advice for me is to apply original research and critical thinking to your investment strategies if you want to outperform the market. But then again, a lot of people are perfectly happy earning market returns and I think indexing is an acceptable way to invest as well.

Ray Dalio created a 30 min YouTube video about his famous work, Principles for Success. He believes that dreams, reality, and determination can all help to create a successful life. And that pain plus proper reflection will give us the tools to progress. It’s an interesting watch if you’re into mental models and self development.

 

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Random Useless Fact:

An actress posted a photo of a man’s rear because she was tired of being harassed online by people leaving lewd comments on her Instagram account.