Feb 282013

I often like to compare lifestyles between different countries. I think where each of us are born has a huge impact on not only our own lives but also how we influence those around us. I recently found this ifitweremyhome.com that compares countries and the average lifestyles of people from all over the world. Coincidentally Canada is currently featured as their country of the week lol. It’s a pretty nifty tool if you want to do some research on another country before you move, or even just go there for a vacation. You can compare Mexico to Australia, United Kingdom to South Korea, etc.. Below lists some of the things it said comparing US and Canada (my comments in italics).

If I lived in the US instead of Canada I would……

Spend 83% more money on health care.
Our government recently announced that health insurance premiums are going up 4% next year. At first I wasn’t too happy about this because over the last 12 years our MSP premiums have almost doubled. However NOW since I realize it’s still relatively cheap I would have no complaints even if they raised it by 10% because that’s still a discount compared to alternatives 🙂
Experience 40% more of a class divide.
I think this is why we’re generally perceived to be more friendly. Even when we get angry we’re nice about it. Unfortunately it also makes for some boring politics sometimes.
13_02_comparison_upsetHave 35% more babies.
Americans have about 138 births per 10,000 people every year. Canadians only have about 103. Not sure exactly why but some people are talking about immigration reform to help grow our population. Why do you think Canadians aren’t having as many children as our southern neighbors?
Have 23% more chance of dying in infancy
The number of deaths of infants under 1 year old in a given year per 1,000 live births in the US is 6.14 while in Canada it is 4.99.
Use 21% less electricity
Makes sense. It’s colder up here in the winter. ~Brrrr~
Make 20% more money
Maybe this is why a lot of smart people finish their studies in Canada and then move to the US to find career opportunities.
Die 3 years sooner
Maybe you live longer in colder temperatures 🙂
Consume 6% less oil
Looks like Canadians aren’t as environmentally friendly as we would like to be
Work 72 hours longer each year
That works out to about 6 hours a month.

So ideally if you want to have the best of both places, you should be born in Canada. Spend your working years in the US. And then move back to Canada to retire and live out the rest of your life. But of course life has too many moving parts to put it that simply. It’s hard to say which country really is better to live in. Both Canada and the US have their pros and cons.

Jul 032012
After a few months of stagnation my net worth is finally starting to climb up again. This is largely thanks to a bonus check I got in June.  We don’t get bonuses every year so we were lucky this time. I almost feel bad accepting it though because Italy (the world’s 8th largest economy, which is even larger than Canada’s) has an unemployment rate over 10%.  Not to mention the millions of people in eastern US without electricity. And yet I work in an air conditioned building and get paid (O_o). Can you imagine living in a world without electricity/internet? You can’t even tweet about how frustrated you are. Good news is Canada has sent a team of professionals to help. I don’t know how long it’ll take their canoes and dog-sleds to get down there though ;). Anyway, I hope they can get the power back soon.
*Side Income:
  • Part-Time Work = $1100
  • Dividends = $300

*Discretionary Spending:

  • Eating Out = $100
  • Others = $100

*Net Worth: (MoM)

  • Assets:
  • Cash = $3,000 (+$1000)
  • Stocks = $74,600 (+$6,200)
  • RRSP = $31,100 (+$10,400)
  • Home  = $248,000
  • Liabilities:
  • Mortgage = $206,500 (-$300)
  • Margin Loan = $18,900 (+$1,500)
  • RRSP Loan = $10,000 (+$10,000) <– New Debt
  • Bank Line of Credit. = $1000 (+$1,000)

*Total Net Worth = $120,300 (+4.7%

For the first time in my life I am holding over $100,000 worth of stocks. The process to get here was pretty straight forward. In 2009 I saved about $10K, the following year $20K, and last year I saved about $30K. The main catalyst fueling this growth in savings is increased earnings with controlled spending. For example I used 100% of my bonus this year to buy stocks which distributes about $15 per month in dividends. This means I just increased my income by $15 a month instantly!  And from now on this new found income ($15/month) will go directly into purchasing more stocks to make me even more money (DRIP.)  At no point during this entire process does my expenses ever increase. And why should it? It’s not like my car needs repairs or I have the sudden urge to go traveling or anything ( ・_・) Other ways I increase my earnings are: getting a raise at work, increasing my tutoring fee, dividend increases on stocks I own, etc. It’s true, that the more money you make the more you can spend. But stay wise my friends, “can spend” should never be confused with “should spend.”  I’m also using leverage to get my assets over $100K :D. In fact just recently I borrowed $10,000 from the bank to fund my retirement account (RRSP.) Without leverage I would probably have only around $70,000 today.

* Numbers are rounded to the nearest $100.
Apr 242012

I recently updated my Dividend Subsidizing Hedge Fund thanks to a reminder from a reader. I’m receiving more subsidies now in all categories. The biggest WIN is that my monthly electricity bill is now 100% subsidized by the utility industry and its partners. This means I don’t have to pay another dime of my hard earned money to pay for my electricity usage ever again (or at least for the foreseeable future.)

I have been slowly buying shares of energy distributors over the last few years, and now I finally have enough of their stocks to receive the dividends needed to fully fund all my electricity needs. It took 3 years and over $8,000 of my personal savings but it’s totally worth it (^o^) My most expensive electricity bill ever was $28, but for most months it’s under $25. To be safe I’m going to assume I spend $30 every month on electricity. However I also get $30 of dividends a month from companies in the business of providing electricity to people’s homes. This $30 dividend is kind of like a rebate, because I’m basically getting a 100% refund from the same group of people whom I just paid. If I became unemployed tomorrow, I don’t have to worry about not having power at home since my electricity bill will technically be paid for, by its own industry.

Here are the companies paying my hydro-electric bill right now.

Just Energy (JE.TO)
They sell electricity to residential and commercial clients. They currently have a dividend yield of a jaw dropping 9.75% and is traded on both the Canadian and US stock markets. Some of their products are sourced from renewable energy like wind, hydro, or biomass. I have $1920 worth of stocks in this company.

Enbridge (ENB.TO)
A pipeline company that mainly distributes gas but is also in the business of alternative energy and power transmission. Its dividend yield at 2.89% may not be as high as other utility companies but most of its growth comes from its appreciating stock price, which is up over 50% since I bought it in 2009. I currently have $1520 worth of Enbridge shares.

SNC Lavalin (SNC.TO)
A world class engineering company that makes dams, bridges, reservoir, power stations, etc. SNC doesn’t provide electricity to people, but they work closely with BC Hydro, and other utility companies. They are an essential part of the energy infrastructure in this country and around the world. And part of the reason our electricity bills keep going up is because companies that make electric generators like SNC are charging more to build and maintain them. There dividend is 2.41%, and I own $5265 worth of shares in this company.

My stock holdings in those 3 companies above provide me with $360 of dividend income per year. As long as everyone else in society is paying their electricity bills on time these companies will continue to make money, and continue to distribute dividends, which means I’ll continue to receive enough funds to cover my own hydroelectric usage.  Unfortunately there is no direct way to invest in the equity of BC Hydro (my actual electricity provider) otherwise I would. This is the bane of government operated services. There’s no competition and no way for investors to benefit if the company performs well. On the other hand, a crown corporation does keep electricity prices predictable, and makes society more stable, so I can’t complain too much.