Liquid Independence

Liquid is the main editor of the Freedom 35 Blog.

Jul 132020
 

The new normal

low interest rates will lead to greater economic expansion, but also more debt.

The year is 2030. Self driving cars are delivering fast food right to people’s front doors. China surpasses the U.S. as the world’s largest economy. Everyone uses mobile wallets instead of credit cards. Increasing wealth inequality has created constant social unrest. But one thing hasn’t changed. Interest rates continue to remain at rock bottom. You can still get a mortgage for less than 2.5%. πŸ™‚

The economy has fallen into a deep pit of debt – so deep you can find Adele rolling in it. Policy makers around the world manufactured liquidity and bailed out corporations. Everyone has become accustomed to cheap money. If interest rates were to climb by just 1% then a third of mortgages will become delinquent.

 

Inflating money with impunity

Today in 2020 the United States government is already technically insolvent. But it can continue to make its debt payments because…

  • It has the ability to borrow money from a line of credit with no credit limit. And..
  • It can choose the interest rate at which it borrows thanks to the Federal Reserve.

From the total revenue collected by the U.S. federal government, 17% of it is used to pay interest on the debt it owes. If interest rates were to rise by just 1% then nearly a quarter of the federal revenue will have to go towards interest costs. That would be insane. Doing so would be the equivalent of someone with a $50,000 salary taking on a $500,000 mortgage at 2.5% interest rate. Nobody can qualify for a mortgage 10x their annual income. Even if the borrower thinks he can afford it, good luck finding a lender audacious enough to approve his loan application. Most mortgages are only 3 to 5 times one’s income.

Typically if a debtor starts to borrow more than he can adequately service – market forces will begin to push back. Lenders will either reject any new credit increase requests, or they will raise the interest rate to compensate for the debtor becoming a higher risk. But this doesn’t happen for governments with their own printing presses. The result: massive asset price inflation.

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Jul 062020
 

Growing passive income

Thanks to some recent stock purchases I’m now making about $20K a year in total dividend income. πŸ™‚ I also earn $9K a year from interest through my fixed income portfolio. And my rental property cash flows $700 a year after mortgage payments and other costs. So altogether my forward annual passive income is expected to be $29,700.

My current personal expenses adds up to roughly $30,000 a year. This means I am really close to being financially free. Hurray! πŸ€— Investment income tends to be fairly stable despite volatility in the underlying assets. So unless there’s some kind of black swan event I will probably achieve financial independence within the next couple of months!

I didn’t expect to hit my goal this soon. My initial plan was to be FI in 2022 – when I turn 35 years old. But now it appears financial freedom could be just around the corner! πŸ˜€

This came as a surprise to me. I didn’t expect the stock market would go on sale earlier this year. But it did. 😁 As a result I was able to buy more shares than initially planned, leading to a higher yield on cost.

Since I’m further ahead on my financial journey than planned I have decided to reduce my financial efforts by quitting all freelance work. This means going forward I will be working only 45 hours a week instead of 50 hours a week. This will give me more free time on the weekends. But I will keep both my full-time and part-time jobs for now. 😬

Liquid’s Financial Update June 2020

*Side Incomes: = $4,600

  • Part time job =$800
  • Dividends =$1300
  • Interest = $600
  • Rent = $1,800

*Discretionary Spending: = $1,800

  • Food = $400
  • Miscellaneous = $500
  • Interest expense = $900

*Net Worth: (Ξ”MoM)

  • Total Assets: = $1,540,400 (+$10,200)Β 
  • Cash = $20,800 (-32,500)
  • Canadian stocks = $336,900 (+35,700)
  • U.S. stocks = $153,700 (+3800)
  • U.K. stocks = $19,600 (+700)
  • Retirement = $152,200 (-900)
  • Mortgage Funds = $39,300 (+3100)
  • P2P Lending = $36,900 (+300)
  • Home = $331,000 (assessed land value)
  • Rental Unit = $450,000 (2020 purchase price)
  • Total Debts: = $518,500 (-3,300)
  • Home Mortgage = $181,300 (-500)
  • Rental Property Mortgage = $312,000 (-800)
  • Margin Loans = $25,200 (-2,000)

*Total Net Worth = $1,021,900 (+$13,500 / +1.3%)
All numbers are in $CDN at 0.73/USD

 

It was another positive month for the financial markets as stocks continue to recover. I filed my income tax in June. I have to pay about $2.5K in tax adjustment to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) this year because I didn’t use all of my RRSP deduction room. The good news is I don’t have to pay this tax bill until September. πŸ™‚

I’m planning to use all of my saved RRSP deduction for next year’s tax season when I have to offset the huge capital gain I triggered this year from selling the farmland – which unlocked about $250,000 of equity that was just sitting there doing nothing.

2020 has been a wild ride so far. But we are officially half way through. How are your finances doing so far this year?

 

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Random Useless Fact:

Jun 292020
 

Transaction codes

Over the years I have seen many different types of activities in my bank accounts. But sometimes I don’t know what the transaction codes mean. And I’m left scratching my head as to what I’m being paid or charged for.

transaction codes can be difficult to understand sometimes.

So to make life easier I’ve compiled a list of account actions with the different abbreviations and what they represent. Most of these transaction codes will apply to TD Canada Trust and Direct Investing accounts. I don’t know if other institutions use the same bank codes but they will probably look similar. πŸ™‚

Use Ctrl+F to find a specific code.

  • ACCT BAL REBATE – Account balance rebate
  • BUY – Buying a security.
  • COB DIS CREDIT – Cost of Borrowing credit for over charging
  • CONVER – A security in the portfolio underwent a corporate action in which it was exchanged for another security.
  • CSHLIEU – Cash was awarded for partial shares in a corporate action in which shares of a new security were exchanged or when a split has taken place.
  • CXLSELL – Original sell trade was cancelled due to a system error.
  • CXLBUY – Original buy trade was cancelled due to a system error.
  • CXLDIV – Dividend payout was cancelled due to a system error.
  • CXLINT or CXLINTBND – Interest paid on a bond was cancelled due to a system error.
  • CXLINTCRD – Interest received for cash held in a portfolio was cancelled due to a system error.
  • CXLINTDEB – Interest paid on a margin loan was cancelled due to a system error.
  • DIV – A dividend was paid.
  • DIVFRG – Foreign dividend earned.
  • DIVSPL – A stock held in your portfolio split or new shares have been added to the portfolio.
  • DRIP – Shares or units bought using the dividend re-investment plan
  • EXCH – Exchange of securities.
  • FEE Fee or carrying charge applied.
  • INT –Β  Interest on a security has been paid.
  • INTBND – Interest has been paid on a bond in the portfolio.
  • INTCRD – Interest was received for cash held in your portfolio.
  • INTUS – Interest earned in US dollars.
  • INTDEB – Interest was paid on a margin loan.
  • LQD – A liquidation of a security has taken place.
  • MERGER – Company merged with another company and has a new ticker symbol. Both symbols will be listed.
  • NRT – Non-resident tax.
  • PRNCPL – Security has been redeemed for cash.
  • REDEEM – Security has been redeemed for cash.
  • REVSPLT – A stock in your portfolio experienced a reverse split.
  • SELL – A security in the portfolio was sold.
  • SEND E-TFR – Sending an E-Transfer to someone.
  • SHORT COVER – Closing of a short position by covering the short.
  • SHORT SELL – A short position was opened and stocks were short sold.
  • SPNOFF – A spinoff of a parent company has taken place. Look for shares of a new security.
  • STK EX – The ticker symbol, CUSIP, or the company name changed for a security that was in your portfolio.
  • TENDER – A security has been redeemed for cash.
  • TXPDDV – Tax paid dividend. A cash transfer that can include dividends, interest, capital gains distribution or return of capital where no additional taxes will be paid by you. This is common for Canadian ETFs or income trusts.
  • TSF FR – Transfer from.
  • TFR-IN – Transfer into an account.
  • TFROUT – Transfer out from account.
  • WBD – Β Transfer in of money from another account – usually the description will include TSF FR (account number.)
  • WHTX02 – Withholding tax from a U.S. stock or other security.

 

Keep in mind that these banking codes may be different than what will ultimately appear on your year-end tax slip. Sometimes banks and brokerages use default designations for convenience and may vary from the tax documents they send to you and the CRA. Whether you are using WebBroker or another online service make sure to ask a representative if you are unsure of any activities in your account.

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Jun 222020
 

This is the third and final post in this series where I discuss the most influential events of my personal finance journey. I like to save the best for last so today I’m discussing a book called, “The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy,” by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. πŸ™‚

The Millionaire Next Door

A hundred years ago everyone owned a horse but only the rich had cars. Today the middle class drive cars and only the rich have horses. Oh how the stables have turned. 😎 The advantage of building wealth today is you don’t have to be smart, highly educated, inventive, or take precarious risks. There’s actually a rulebook – a set of specific guidelines that you can follow to reach millionaire status. It all comes down to practicing some simple habits. πŸ™‚

saving like a millionaire next door

I read the Millionaire Next Door when I was 20 years old because I wanted to know how rich people live so that I can be like them one day. Or better yet – for the rest of my life. πŸ˜‰ What I discovered from the book blew my mind. For some reason I had the misconception that most millionaires inherited their money, and enjoy spending it on lavish goods and luxuries. But instead, the book revealed that 80% of millionaires are self made. And most of them live a very low key lifestyle – known as stealth wealth. Your next door neighbor could be a millionaire, but you probably can’t tell just by looking. The book is essentially a compilation of behaviors and habits of rich people through academic surveys.

I decided to follow in the footsteps of the millionaires in the book. Since 4 out of 5 millionaires are first-generation affluent it gave me more confidence that I don’t need any financial help from my parents to reach a 7 figure net worth.

My plan was straightforward. I would simply behave like a millionaire until I became one. πŸ˜€ That’s literally all I did. Everything I needed to know to act like a millionaire was right there in the book. And believe it or not this actually worked! 13 years later I became a millionaire. πŸ™‚ So let’s take a look at the behaviors I began to adopt back in 2007.

 

The Characteristics of a Millionaire

Here are 10 habits that I picked up from the book. Some of these behaviors I followed to a T in order to improve my chances of success.

  1. Millionaires spend twice as many hours per month planning their investments as other people.
    At first I didn’t know how this would actually help make me a millionaire. But I did it anyway. And it was pretty easy. I started to watch the performance of my investments more closely. To my surprise, what I paid attention to grew the fastest. For example, by focusing on my retirement plan, my RRSP has now grown to $150,000.
  2. Wealth accumulators don’t drink much, and spend less than $10 on average for a bottle of wine.
    Alcohol is often taxed more than other goods. An evening spent drinking can cost $50 or more, especially if you order the good stuff. But rich people usually don’t drink. And when they do it’s often something affordable. πŸ™‚ I have followed this rule myself and have saved lots of money. There are tons of other activities in life to enjoy. Drinking alcohol doesn’t have to be one of them.
  3. The millionaire next door probably doesn’t smoke.
    The financial cost of smoking can be expensive. And it’s not good for your healthy either. Although I’ve heard it is good for curing salmon. 😎
  4. Most wealthy people own cars instead of leasing them. The millionaire’s car make of choice: Toyota.
    I bought a used Toyota in 2010. I’ve been driving it for the past 10 years. Amazingly it still works like new. πŸ™‚ I could probably get another 10 years out of it. It’s fuel efficient, cheap to maintain, and easy to insure. I can see why millionaires like to drive these.
  5. Millionaires avoid buying status objects. They tend to reject status symbols whenever possible.
    You can either look wealthy or be wealthy. But it’s nearly impossible to do both. That’s why I don’t own luxury brands. This alone has saved me thousands of dollars over the years. I don’t even have any Apple products since there are always cheaper alternatives.
  6. Millionaires like to track their spending. Two-thirds of millionaires can answer β€œyes” to this question: β€œDo you know how much your family spends each year for food, clothing, and shelter?” In contrast, only one-third of high-income non-millionaires answered yes to this question.
    I started to track my spending when I learned about this habit. It doesn’t take too much time with a spreadsheet. It really makes me feel in control of my budget and personal finances. πŸ™‚
  7. Most millionaires work between 45 to 55 hours a week.
    I adopted a 50 hour work week in my twenties by taking up a part time job. It has worked out really well as the skills I’ve learned from the side job has given me the tools to advance my full time job. πŸ™‚ The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average person who works 13% longer earns 44% more pay. So there’s a nonlinear return on overtime.
  8. About 80% of millionaires have brokerage accounts. But they make their own investment decisions.
    I used to have a financial advisor in college. But after reading this book I took out all the money and started to invest it all myself. Best decisions I’ve ever made. Saved myself over $50,000 in management fees.
  9. The vast majority, (97%) of millionaire are homeowners. Most of them have lived in the same home for over 10 years. Thus, they have likely enjoyed significant increases in the value of their properties.
    This is why I’m a staunch proponent of real estate investing and saved up a downpayment ASAP when I was starting out. There’s a huge correlation between being rich and being a property owner. I’ve lived in my home for nearly 12 years now. The market value has easily doubled. πŸ™‚
  10. On average, the wealthy invests nearly 20% of their realized income each year.
    My salary today is around $70K, the highest it’s ever been. But no matter how much I earn I always invest at least 20% of my income every year. Consistency is key. Making six-figures would be great, but it’s not required to become a millionaire.

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Jun 152020
 

A large price drop is coming says CMHC

Canada’s federal housing agency predicts home prices will decline by as much 18% this year. The Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp. (CMHC) is concerned for the country’s long term financial stability amidst the higher unemployment rate this year. Its CEO recently announced that one fifth of “all mortgages could be in arrears if the country’s economy hasn’t sufficiently recovered.” He also predicts the nation’s debt to disposable income ratio will climb from 176% now to well over 200% through 2021.

In fact, CMHC doesn’t think real estate prices will start climbing again until the second quarter of next year. The graph below shows the average price of homes up until now, followed by a solid-filled probability range representing the most likely scenario into the future. As we can see the short term outlook is not good for real estate investors.

 

My opinion

Although I can’t speak for the rest of Canada, I feel a price correction of 18% in Vancouver is probably not going to happen. According to zealty.ca, the median price of homes in Metro Vancouver has been moving up over the past 5 years. The 12 month average did turn negative in 2017 and 2019, but overall the trend is still moving higher. The nationwide lockdown during March and April also didn’t seem to hurt prices too much.

Personally I feel like the worst of the economic pain from the pandemic is over. We will probably see a flat real estate market over the next few months followed by increasing prices near the end of the year. Then in 2021 and 2022 prices will continue to climb by 4% a year as the economy expands and lenders continue to print credit. πŸ™‚ I believe now, during the summer of 2020 is a great time to buy real estate because prices are subdued due to the pandemic. Transactions have slowed so there are fewer buyers to compete with. And interest rates are still in the basement so mortgages are cheap.

Even if there’s a large housing crash around the corner it probably won’t last long as the political will to stimulate the economy is all but certain. So I am not worried.

 

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