Dec 192016
 

2016 is turning out to be a spectacular year for equity investors. 🙂 The Canadian S&P/TSX index is up 17% year to date, while the Dow Jones index in the United States is up 14%. Wow! That’s impressive even by historical standards. The markets have done an excellent job of beating expectations lately. 😀 We could even see the Dow hit 20,000 points before December 31st if we’re lucky.

December is usually a good time to re-examine our investment portfolios and see if there’s any adjustments we need to make to our asset allocation or general financial plan. Personally, this last quarter has been quite eventful for me as I’ve contributed over $30,000 in new investments. As of now here is a breakdown of all my assets and liabilities. 🙂 Everything has been rounded to the nearest $1,000 in $CAD.

Net Worth At a Glance

Assets by Account/Type: 
$19,000 – TFSA at Canadian Western. Private mortgage fund.
$47,000 – TFSA at TD. Mostly income trusts.
$14,000 – Cash trading account at TD. Mostly stocks.
$86,000 –  RRSP at TD. Bonds, U.S. equities, and MICs + REITs.
$170,000 – Margin Account at IB. Mostly dividend stocks.
$10,000 – SolarShare bonds.
$263,000 – Primary residence.
$433,000 – Farmland.
Total Assets = $1,042,000

Liabilities:
$186,000 – Home Mortgage
$192,000 – Farm Mortgage
$58,000 – Margin Loan
$17,000 – TD LOC
$17,000 – HELOC
$10,000 – CIBC LOC
Total Liabilities = $480,000

Total Net Worth = $562,000 🙂

Farmland still makes up a rather large piece of the pie chart. I can’t complain that my farmland went up 10% in value, but I would like to see my stocks and fixed income allocation increase to create a more balanced portfolio.

Last year in December 2015, my farmland represented 44.6% of my asset allocation. This year it has gone down to 40.3% so I am making progress. But it is still not enough. I have to stay focused on my goals and make changes to my situation. As George Bernard Shaw once said, “The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

So in 2017 I plan to buy more fixed income assets and dividend paying stocks to increase my relative position in those liquid asset classes. 🙂

Below are some more details about my various investment accounts.

Continue reading »

Aug 142014
 

The level of financial risk we can tolerate depends on our savings: The less money we have the more risk we can afford to take on. If you have worked with a financial advisor before then you’ve probably seen a risk tolerance chart like the following.

14-08-risk-tolerance

Each portfolio from A to D represents a different risk tolerance of maximum expected returns and losses. Choosing a model portfolio can help one’s financial advisor determine the best funds for the client based on his risk assessment. Conservative portfolios tend to hold more bonds, GICs, and T-Bills. Aggressive portfolios may hold more technology and energy stocks, which are more risky but also more potentially profitable.

If we are currently in our working years and only have $100,000 of savings, then we should have an aggressive investment plan that mimics the expected rate of return as Portfolio D in the image above. High risk, high reward. Like Ms. Frizzle always says, “take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” This is because losing $20,000 in the worst case scenario is no big deal since we are still actively working. $20,000 is only 6 months worth of salary for many people, so the loss can be quickly recouped 😀 But if things go well then hot diggity dog! we’ll make a $50,000 profit. The key to compound interest is to start as early as possible so if we can make our portfolio value 50% higher at a younger age it will give us a huge advantage over the long run.

14-08-invest-balls

But if we have recently retired and have $1,000,000 in savings then our investment goals would be different. We can’t be in Portfolio D because a potential $200,000 loss is a lot of money, and could prevent us from having a comfortable retirement. At the same time the potential return of $500,000 doesn’t sound that appealing when we’re already millionaires. At a certain level of wealth any extra money we save will face diminishing marginal utility which means the lifestyle of a senior who is worth $1.5 million isn’t going to be drastically different from another senior with only $1 million. So in this situation it would be better to choose the more defensive Portfolio A.

When we’re young our spending often depends on the product of our human capital and time, both of which we have an abundance of. But when we’re retired our human capital becomes diminished, so lifestyle needs to depend on our savings instead. This is when capital preservation takes priority over investment returns and we have to decrease our exposure to risk in order to make our portfolio last as long as possible 😉

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Random Useless Fact:
Humans don’t have natural enemies. So we fight with each other.

 

Mar 102014
 

Turning Existing Money to Passive Income

Many people look at their savings as money they can spend in the future. But I like to think of my savings as a perpetual generator of income instead. The difference is once you spend money in the future it’s gone. But if you have a machine that brings you a steady stream of income then that cashflow is perpetual. 🙂 It’s better to have a goose that lays golden eggs than just a pile of golden eggs.

This means when I save $1,000 today, I don’t deem that money “spendable” anymore. Instead that $1,000 of savings have been changed into $40/year of passive income (or 4% of the saved amount) for the rest of my life. 😀

Many actuaries and financial experts like to use the 4% rule because it represents a sustainable draw down rate over a long period of time. On a similar note, when I occasionally sell my investments to pay for large purchases, I also think of that as stealing income away from my future self.

If one manages to save $1,000 a month and make an investment return of 4% above inflation every year, then after 32 years of working, he or she will have about $750,000 of investable assets, which that person can draw down from at 4% a year, or $30,000 of spending money forever.

14-03-savings, savings are future income

With $30,000 of income every year coming from our nest egg, plus maybe $20,000 from government assistance/private pensions, we can expect to live quite comfortably on a $50,000 annual income. Not everyone is able to save $1,000 a month, but statistics show that men who live on the west coast like myself plan to save on average about $15,000 this year. So for most people, $1000/month of savings, if not more, is to be expected. One way I like to save is to cook my own meals most of the time because eating out can be quite costly.

14-03-expensive-food, savings are future income

Personally my savings rate is about $1,500 to $2,000 a month thanks to my side hustles. So I plan to retire quite a bit earlier than 55. 😀 In fact, according to my latest net worth details which I publish every month, I already have over $750,000 of financial assets today. 😉

However that’s not the entire story. The reality is that I only have about $175,000 of investable, liquid assets. The remaining $575,000 is locked up in long term, capital appreciating resources such as my home and my farmland. Nevertheless building up $175,000 of stocks and bonds over a 5 year period still sounds pretty far-fetched given my average salary. Luckily there’s a wonderful tool called leverage that has made all this possible! Instead of buying stocks in a regular trading account, I have a margin account which allows me to invest with borrowed money and I was able to double the performance of the S&P 500 stock market index over the last few years!

Our age and risk tolerance will influence our asset allocation but generally speaking we should be able to sustain a 4% withdrawal rate by investing 60% of our money in equities, and 40% in fixed income. In terms of geographical allocation we can go with a 50/50 North American and international split to stay diversified. We then rebalance our portfolios to meet these ratios once a year. 🙂

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Random Useless Fact: What is a 4 letter word, yet is made up of 3. Rarely consists 6 letters, and never is written with 5.

Hint for the riddle above: Think about why it’s under the Random Useless Fact section 😉

Jan 072013
 
goals

New year, new challenges. I will do my best to tackle the six financial goals listed below which are similar in nature to last year’s goals. I’ve also included 2 additional stretch goals. These stretch goals will be super challenging so I don’t except to achieve them but it would be a real bonus if I did :0)

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.
~Bruce Lee

1) Increase net worth by $50,000. Counting on my savings as well as my nearly half a million dollars worth of investments to appreciate 😀
2) Make at least $6,000 more income than last year. Thanks to my new rental income from the farm this one should be pretty doable.
3) Put $5,000 into my retirement account.
4) Put $5,500 into my TFSA. (Roth IRA equivalent in Canada)
5) Put at least $18,000 towards other investments (net of taking on any new debt)
6) Bring the total value of my non-registered accounts to $100,000. Currently my TFSA, cash trading account, and margin account, has a combined value of $68,700. So I’ll need to grow these accounts by $31,300 this year 😉

Stretch Goals
1) Pay down at least $1,000 of my debt.  Adding together the balance on my line of credit, a margin loan, and everything else, my total debt is $357,200. It’s not a lot, and interest rates are still low, so I’m not really concerned about it, but I noticed other personal finance bloggers making it a goal and a priority to pay down their debts this year. So I’m going to try and do the same because maybe that’s the smart thing to do. $1,000 is a lot of money though and I don’t know if I have that kind of discipline, so I’m making this a stretch goal, but hopefully I can get myself to only $356,200 of debt by the end of the year.
2) Make $90,000 of pre-tax income. I’m in a race with this other personal finance blogger to see who can make $100,000 dollars a year first. For 2013 she set a goal to make $90,000 so I’m going to follow suit and do the same :0)

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Random Useless Fact:  Auto correct has made it easier to text. But it doesn’t always work the way you expect it to, and that can lead to some unexpected results.

Jan 262012
 

Better late than never right. (・_・;) Here is what I propose to accomplish by the end of 2012.

1) Make at least $4,000 more than last year. This shall come from a combination of my 2 jobs, tutoring, and dividend income. If I can get just $1000 increase from each income source then I’ll be hunky-dory.
2) Put $10,000 into my retirement accounts. I’m lucky enough to have my employer match my own contribution up to 4% of my salary. A typical defined contribution plan. The rest I plan to save myself.
3) Put $5,000 into my TFSA. (Roth IRA equivalent in Canada) I plan to buy some value stocks in here.
4) Put $25,000 towards other investments (stocks or bonds or real estate, etc)
5) Have a six-figure investment portfolio. The net value of all my investments will be over $100,000.
6) Increase net worth by $40,000.

That’s pretty much it. How do I plan to invest so much and increase my wealth by $40,000 this year, when I can’t even take home $40,000/year from my full-time job? The same way as last year. In 2011 my net worth increased by more than my salary. Among other factors, having a 2nd job and multiple income sources really helps. All I plan to do this year is to continue focusing on my multiple income streams, live within my means, and use leverage to increase my investment returns, (which unfortunately also increases risk, but I currently see no better alternative.) My goal is to work smarter, not harder. I will put the money I already have to good use, and continue to do what I enjoy like designing art, teaching, and blogging. I hope to have a normal life, without over working myself, and still reach financial independence in my mid thirties.


“How am I going to live today in order to create the tomorrow I’m committed to?”
~Tony Robbins