Oct 012014
 

The American economy is starting to pick up. U.S. stocks have held steady in September. However the Canadian stock market dropped 4.3%, the price of oil fell $3 per barrel, and the value of the Loonie sank to just 89.4 cents U.S.

Thankfully my finances held up okay in September. I did lose about $5,600 of value in my stock portfolio though. :| It’s hard to make money when the entire stock market index takes a big hit. However I still managed to end the month with a net worth increase of +$1,400. This is largely due to my rental income which came at the end of the month. I deposited this payment of $5,177 into my bank account, same as this time last year. Unfortunately I’m still cash flow negative on my farmland investment by about $4K a year, but I’m hoping that the land will appreciate in value over time to compensate for any short term losses.

13-10-finalrents

Phew, if it wasn’t for this payment I’m afraid my net worth would have dropped by several thousand dollars. :? But instead I eked out a small gain! I receive 2 rent payments annually from the farms; once in the spring and once in the fall.

What a coinkydink. ;) Just as I experience a month of stock market decline my farmland investment pulls through for me. :D I decided to use the extra rental money to pay down some of my debt. I know my debt level might be a bit on the high side and many people have given me pretty strong signals to use less leverage. But for now I think I’m doing alright with over 6 consecutive years of double digit annual returns.

I’ve had a lot of time to experiment and reflect on my financial choices since buying a condo in 2009 and living by myself.  I’ve discovered what matters most is to be flexible and have a solid understanding of one’s unique financial situation. Understanding removes uncertainty and creates confidence, which will lead to a sense of control. I’m comfortable with my debt because I’m confident I have control over it. However it’s important to have a contingency plan as well, which I thoroughly stress test.
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*Side Income:

  • Part-Time Work = $500
  • Dividends = $400
  • Farm Rent = $5,200
*Discretionary Spending:
  • Eating Out = $100
  • Others = $200

*Net Worth: (MoM)chart_14sept net worth graph economy slow down

  • Assets: = $836,000 total (-3,900)
  • Cash = $3400 (+1200)
  • Stocks CDN =$88,700 (-5300)
  • Stocks US = $52,900 (-300)
  • RRSP = $49,000 (+500)
  • MICs = $15,000 (same)
  • Home = $254,000 (same)
  • Farms = $373,000 (same)
  • Debts: = $525,700 total (-5,300)
  • Mortgage = $196,900 (-400)
  • Farm Loans = $204,800 (-400)
  • Margin Loan CDN = $27,500 (-2200)
  • Margin Loan US = $24,900 (+700)
  • TD Line of Credit = $31,000  (-1000)
  • CIBC Line of Credit = $11,600 (-400)
  • HELOC = $18,500 (-100)
  • RRSP Loans = $10,500 (-1,500)

*Total Net Worth = $310,300 (+0.45%)
All numbers above are in $CDN. Conversion rate used: 1.00 USD = 1.12 CAD

I hold mostly dividend growth stocks in my margin accounts. They’re large-cap, blue chip companies such as Chevron, Starbucks, or Disney, with large economic moats and have a history of increasing earnings and dividends over time. Apparently the severe weather in the prairies this year has not deterred farm buyers :) Alberta received a lot of snow. Saskatchewan and Manitoba experienced pretty bad flooding. Yet according to a Re/Max report land prices are still going up.

Land in short supply left “well-financed” Alberta farmers ready to make a deal on short notice, Re/Max said, noting tiled land, for example, sold for as much as $10,000 per acre in southern Alberta, up 20% over the previous year.
~agcanada.com 

In Saskatchewan, prices increased from between $1,500 and $2,000 an acre in 2013 to between $1,800 and $2,200 in 2014. Manitoba saw its price range go from between $1,350 and $1,600 to $1,500 and $2,000.
~bnn.ca

My Saskatchewan farms are currently worth about $1,200 an acre on average. If we assume that report is accurate then even a conservative $100/acre increase would give me a solid $31,000 capital appreciation for this year alone. :D That alone would be more than enough to cover the entire cost of servicing my total debts, for which I pay about $18,000 of interest per year.

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Sep 012014
 

It’s the first day month of Autumn :) It’s hard to believe another month has gone by already. The U.S. economy grew at a brisk 4.2% in the second quarter of 2014, and Canada’s increased to 3.1%, which is the fastest pace since 2011. Consumers are spending more, exports are up, and stock markets are reaching all times highs! But for many people it still feels like a struggle to get out of a recession because their real wages have stagnated since 2008 yet the real cost of food, shelter, and other goods are higher. Grinding away at a job, saving some money, and relying on the government have always placed people at a disadvantage.

Those who want to actually get ahead economically have to make the right decisions with their money. Thankfully this is not hard to do. All investors who use a simple indexing strategy have seen the fruits of this recovering economy. Strong GDP growth usually means more discretionary spending, more profits for businesses, and more expensive houses. It’s hard to lose money in the markets when stocks, real estate, and bonds have all gone up over the last few years.

*Side Income:

  • Part-Time Work = $1,200
  • Dividends = $400
*Discretionary Spending:
  • Eating Out = $100
  • Others = $200

*Net Worth: (MoM)chart_14july

  • Assets: = $839,900 total (+1,600)
  • Cash = $2200 (+200)
  • Stocks CDN =$94,000 (+1400)
  • Stocks US = $53,200 (+500)
  • RRSP = $48,500 (-500)
  • MICs = $15,000 (same)
  • Home = $254,000 (same)
  • Farms = $373,000 (same)
  • Debts: = $531,000 total (-3,700)
  • Mortgage = $197,300 (-400)
  • Farm Loans = $205,200 (-400)
  • Margin Loan CDN = $29,700 (-700)
  • Margin Loan US = $24,200 (+300)
  • TD Line of Credit = $32,000  (-200)
  • CIBC Line of Credit = $12,000 (-700)
  • HELOC = $18,600 (-100)
  • RRSP Loans = $12,000 (-1,500)

*Total Net Worth = $308,900 (+1.75%)
All numbers above are in $CDN. Conversion rate used: 1.00 USD = 1.09 CAD

That’s about $5K increase from the previous month. Not bad :) I had 3 pay periods at my part time job which is rare but always nice. The Canadian stock market set a new record high, partially due to Tim Hortons shares shooting up 27% in August :D I have about $2K of cash in my RRSP account. I might invest in some media companies in September.

Besides the regular side income sources I’ve listed above I also made $186 from selling stock options in August :) At the beginning of this year I didn’t really understand what options were. But I learned about them, experimented with them, explained how writing options work, and now I plan to trade options on a regular basis and make $1000 to $1500 from option premiums every year. This would certainly help increase my net worth over time ;)  Writing options can be less risky than trading stocks, but it’s guaranteed to make a premium every single time. So far my options have never been exercised before.

14-08-augoptions

Earning extra income is literally as simple as learning a new skill, trying it out, and becoming comfortable enough with it to turn it into a habit. The hard part is building up the confidence to trust your own judgement. And there’s only one way to do that; by doing ;)

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Random Useless Fact:
Dwarf hamsters are prone to diabetes so avoid feeding them sweet treats and fruit. 

14-09-hamster-diet

 

 

Aug 042014
 

July was a decent month. So far in 2014 my wealth has grown by $100,000! Most of that came from investment gains. Awesome possum! :D My asset column is growing steadily. If I hypothetically buy a one bedroom, shoebox condo tomorrow for $200,000 then BOOM! I’d technically be a millionaire by gross assets! Just thinking about that gets me all kinds of excited :D But I have to be careful not to over extend myself with leverage.

It’s an interesting realization that my current $303,600 net worth is about 36% of my total assets. This means a 36% correction of my overall investments right now would WIPE OUT my entire net worth. POOF! All my wealth would just disappear before my eyes :cry:  Hopefully that won’t happen but who knows what the future holds :? That’s what I love about finance, it’s like a box of chocolates; I never know what surprise will await me ;)

Anyway it’s getting harder to find undervalued investments these days with the equities market being so darn high. So I took a slightly different direction with my investments recently. Rather than picking stocks, I spent over $10,000 instead on a huge shopping spree in July to purchase fixed income assets like bonds and MICs. Most of this spending had to come from new borrowed money but that’s okay. I’m not too worried right now because I emphatically feel like my debt will somehow take care of itself later ;) #fingerscrossed

*Side Income:

  • Part-Time Work = $800
  • Dividends = $500
*Discretionary Spending:
  • Eating Out = $100
  • Others = $200

*Net Worth: (MoM)chart_14july

  • Assets: = $838,300 total (+13,100)
  • Cash = $2000 (+1200)
  • Stocks CDN =$92,600 (-300)
  • Stocks US = $52,700 (+600)
  • RRSP = $49,000 (+6600)
  • MICs = $15,000 (+5000)
  • Home = $254,000 (same)
  • Farms = $373,000 (same)
  • Debts: = $534,700 total (+6,800)
  • Mortgage = $197,700 (-400)
  • Farm Loans = $205,600 (-500)
  • Margin Loan CDN = $30,400 (-400)
  • Margin Loan US = $23,900 (-1000)
  • TD Line of Credit = $32,200  (-400)
  • CIBC Line of Credit = $12,700 (-400)
  • HELOC = $18,700 (-1000)
  • RRSP Loans = $13,500 (+10,900)

*Total Net Worth = $303,600 (+2.12%)
All numbers above are in $CDN. Conversion rate used: 1.00 USD = 1.09 CAD

On the asset side, thanks to the inclusion of the new bonds, my RRSP is now almost at $50K :) I decided to add my $5K of new MICs to the “MICs” asset category (and did not include the value in my “RRSP” category) even though they’re held in my RRSP account. This is for more descriptive bookkeeping purpose only. On the debt side my “RRSP loans” went up big time, but I plan to pay it down at least $1K a month. For the time being I want to just hold onto my current assets. Today I have about 75% of my assets in hard wealth, and 25% in paper wealth. That seems to be a good balance for me :)

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Random Useless Fact:

The Hawaiian pizza was invented in Ontario, Canada.  And the California Roll (sushi) was invented in Vancouver, BC Canada.

Jun 292014
 

I recently read an article about people who camped out for 3 days to be among the first to own the next “hot” thing on the market. What did those people wait in line for? A new smartphone? Nope. A sale on a 60 inch LED TV? Nope. How about a new condo. Yes! Within the first 5 hours of going on sale last Saturday, the first tower at Brentwood Mall, in Burnaby B.C., sold out of all 247 units. :shock: At least the buyers went prepared and brought with them tents and sleeping bags.

14-06-brentwoodcondo

By mid afternoon all suites – ranging from $299,000 to $949,000 – had been bought up. Welcome to the Greater Vancouver Area, where if you don’t camp out for 3 days you have no chance to buy a brand new condo project :?

Speaking of real estate, last week I blogged about buying my first mortgage fund. So this means I have a new item to add to my net worth statement this month :) On to the numbers.

*Side Income:

  • Part-Time Work = $600
  • Dividends = $500
*Discretionary Spending:
  • Eating Out = $100
  • Others = $100

*Net Worth: (MoM)chart_14jun net worth fiscal update

  • Assets: = $825,200 total (+6,300)
  • Cash = $800 (-9500)
  • Stocks CDN =$92,900 (+4100)
  • Stocks US = $52,100 (+1100)
  • RRSP = $42,400 (+600)
  • Home = $254,000 (same)
  • Farms = $373,000 (same)
  • MIC = $10,000 (+new)
  • Debts: = $527,900 total (-3,400)
  • Mortgage = $198,100 (-300)
  • Farm Loans = $206,100 (-400)
  • Margin Loan CDN = $30,800 (-200)
  • Margin Loan US = $24,900 (-1200)
  • TD Line of Credit = $32,600  (-400)
  • CIBC Line of Credit = $13,100 (-400)
  • HELOC = $19,700 (-100)
  • RRSP Loan = $2,600 (-400)

*Total Net Worth = $297,300 (+3.37%)
All numbers above are in $CDN. Conversion rate used: 1.00 USD = 1.07 CAD

June has been a great month. I saw a $9,700 increase to my wealth and there are no signs of the hot stock market slowing down. I suppose this is what happens when the Federal Reserves continues to dump $35 billion a month into the economy. I’m happy to add a new investment into my asset category. As a fixed income vehicle the principal of my MIC does not fluctuate day to day. I may buy more MICs in the future, possibly publicly traded ones next time. Stocks this month has performed very well, especially the technology companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon. I’m extremely happy with Intel’s stock. In mid June Intel announced that it thinks the PC market is still strong. Its share price is up 15% month over month, yay! In terms of debt I’m just slowly paying that down. The large drop of my U.S. margin loan is mostly due to the weakened $USD relative to my domestic currency :P

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Random Useless Fact:

The 2 concentric circles below are perfectly round. #opticalillusion

circles-concentric

Jun 022014
 

May was another great month. Net worth increased by $5,600, mostly thanks to my tenant’s $5K rental payment :) This represents half the year’s annual rent. The other half is due in October. The first farm I bought in 2012 using $20,000 of my personal savings is now worth $50,000 more. Luckily my aggressive 8:1 leverage has paid off and has earned me over 100% ROI every year so far. I don’t think it’s too late to buy farmland today, as long as investors plan to hold it for 10+ years ;)

But how would rising interest rates affect farmland prices in the future? I don’t try to time the market or predict when rates will rise. But I believe higher interest rates will be caused by higher growth and inflation in the economy, which means higher commodity prices, which could mean even higher farmland values. In my humble opinion hard assets generally perform well under inflationary periods. Of course I could be wrong. I’m still cash flow negative so my farmland investment is only speculation at this point :| And if you noticed groceries costing more, sorry. It’s because people like me have been speculating and driving up the cost of farmland, and farmers are paying higher rent.

 

*Side Income:

  • Part-Time Work = $400
  • Dividends = $400
*Discretionary Spending:
  • Eating Out = $100
  • Others = $100

*Net Worth: (MoM)chart_14apr

  • Assets: = $818,900 total (+9,000)
  • Cash = $10,300 (+10,000)
  • Stocks CDN =$88,800 (-900)
  • Stocks US = $51,000 (-100)
  • RRSP = $41,800 (same)
  • Home = $254,000 (same)
  • Farms = $373,000 (same)
  • Debts: = $531,300 total (+2,900)
  • Mortgage = $198,400 (-400)
  • Farm Loans = $206,500 (-500)
  • Margin Loan CDN = $31,000 (+3000)
  • Margin Loan US = $26,100 (-200)
  • TD Line of Credit = $33,000  (-400)
  • CIBC Line of Credit = $13,500 (-100)
  • HELOC = $19,800 (+2000)
  • RRSP Loan = $3,000 (-500)

*Total Net Worth = $287,600 (+2.17%)
All numbers above are in CAD. Conversion rate used: 1.00 USD = 1.08 CAD

I’m pretty happy with May’s results, even though it’s not as exciting as my $53,000 wealth increase in the previous monthly update :P

After depositing the $5K rent, I borrowed an additional $2K from my HELOC and $3K from my Margin account, so now I have $10K total in cash. I have written a cheque for $10,000 made payable to a company called Canadian Western Trust for a major purchase coming up. I need to keep the $10K in my bank account until the transfer goes through. I normally don’t keep this much cash idling around though. I like Warren Buffett’s analogy that cash is like oxygen. It’s important to keep enough of it around, but you don’t need excessive amounts of it, lol. It’s much better to hold profitable businesses or productive real estate than to keep a lot of cash on hand. I hope everyone else also had a great month financially :)

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Random Useless Fact: Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant

hedgehogs fiscal update