Weekend Update

Books: Re-reading an old James Herriot novel, All Creatures Great and Small. It’s probably been 18 years that I’ve read it. Just going back to some master story tellers. (Also, if you can’t tell, I’ve been obsessed with all things Brit lately.)

Car insurance: Been shopping around, as I am looking for a new insurance company for the start of July, when I move back to Ontario. I was paying far too much for Meloche Monnex, although I didn’t have much of a choice, since they were one of the few companies that would take me as a client (i.e. living in Quebec with Ontario plates). After talking to five companies, I believe my best bet is OTIP. It does pay to call around though; I got a $25 Amazon gift card from OTIP just for speaking with an agent and CAA also gave me $25 for chatting with them!

Roboadvisors:
 Finally transferred about $22,000 of RSPs out of Tangerine Investment Funds and over to another roboadvisor. There’s a nice spread of iShares and Vanguard ETFs. Will need to sit down and look through my asset allocation when I’ve got more time in the summer. Got a $50 bonus when I started the account since mentioning the referral from Jessica Moorhouse.

School Boards: All registered with my new school board, and getting calls for substitution on my cellphone (it took me a week to figure out how to turn it off until September). However, I am disappointed I did not get an interview with Ottawa-Carleton (OCDSB). Out of four other friends, only one person I knew got an interview for the OT list. I suppose I just try again next year … should I apply for Thames Valley? Will work on an application later this week.

Media: Podcasting as usual and enjoying BBC’s The Documentary. Also learned about Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) on the SickBoy podcast*. Taking a pause after finishing seasons 6 of Call the Midwives and switching over to AMC’s Humans. AHHHH!!! Great show to watch after HBO’s WestworldWatch the trailer:


*This is a Canadian podcast and it is tastefully done, not what you’d expect when the three hosts are three white dudes. What’s even cooler is that one of the hosts is my gym buddy’s brother-in-law!

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Canadian Investors Conference

Back in February, I wasn’t able to participate in the Canadian Investors Conference, but I ended up buying a Premium Pass ($99) while it was still discounted, so I could watch the videos on my own time. Really impressed with the line-up as well, so many familiar names like Rob Carrick and John Robertson.

Just blown away at how a single person – Helena Liu – put together this entire show for free the first year; happy to support her as she’s helping Canadians be more financially responsible. While it’s been an online conference and that the presentations are done mainly through Skype, it’s still impressive that all the live sessions were completely free.

For starters, I listened to one with James Gauthier, who runs JustWealth. This is  a robo-advisor that currently have 63 different types of portfolios and also can give investment advice (not all robos can). I learned the difference between fiduciary standard and suitability standard. Robo-advisors are held to a fiduciary standard (they put their client’s interest above their own), while a salesperson at the bank pushing you mutual funds would only be held to a suitability standard.

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I also listened to the interview with Robert R. Brown, who write the book, Wealthing Like RabbitsI really enjoyed the book when I read it over Christmas break, especially the introduction to mortgages. But having gotten lots of great notes from the book, I didn’t find the interview that much more insightful. Still glad I listened to it though!

Looking forward to going through the rest of the interviews!

WealthSimple ASP

Change my mind again, on the RSPs investments. I had mentioned last week I wanted to set up an ASP biweekly to match the paychecks. I’ve decided to contribute $333 off each paycheck towards my WealthSimple account, rather than into Tangerine Portfolios, which still has an MER of 1.07%.

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It’s sort of the funny, the more and more you talk and the more you think about this stuff, you realize how each decision prior could have been better made …

It’s a learning process!

Checking in on TSFAs

The past few months, I’ve been trying hard to get back into managing my finances better, especially on the investing front. Investing has been a weakness of mine, an area that I ignored for a looooong time, despite the fact that my late father basically did investing for a living*.

I’m confident that I’m getting a better sense of the “couch potato strategy“. I had heard the term a lot when I first started reading PF blogs, but never really made an effort to learn about it until the past few months.

To be honest, I am still stunned by how amazingly simple it is. With the sudden availability of roboadvisors, even dummies – like me – have no excuse not to invest.

So currently, I am in the process of selling off the last of my mutual funds and rebalancing everything. It’ll likely take a few more months before I feel good about having everything lined up.

For now, I’m reassessing how much TSFA contribution room I have left. When the Conservative government initially started TSFAs in 2009, I had no problems maxing out each year. This year, for 2017, Canadians will have a total of $52,000 contribution room. That’s a whackload of money that can be invested tax-free and is definitely a privilege for the privileged.

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The past few years, with my lifestyle inflation – obvious by my many international adventures – have made it a bit harder for me to max them out. I currently only have contributed $41,050**.

Of course, I’m not looking for pity. Having the ability to purchase plane tickets and try new foods in far away lands makes me very, very happy. It’s one of the few joys in life that have to give up when my financial situation won’t be so stable. But for now, even if I’m not maxing out my TSFAs, I’m happy to spend some money for some far-off fun.

Also, as there has been a lot of money moving around – paying off my credit cards, resettling debt with my travel buddies, liquidating MFs – I’ve decided to hold off on calculating net worth for December. I don’t normally skip any entries, but if it happens here or there, I’m okay with it. I’ll recalculate in January.

Do you contribute to TSFAs? How are your finances in this new year?

*I am still the only person in my family who has never worked in finance.

**I received free $50 from opening a WealthSimple account back in 2016. I like to keep numbers round so it’s easier to track.

Money Research: Podcasts and Articles

A few months ago, Rogers announced that it would stop printing MoneySense Magazine. NOOOOOOO!!! WTF!?!?!

Sigh. That is the way of things, I suppose.

And so, since reopening my Questrade account last month, moving some of my TSFAs to a robo-advisor* instead, I’ve been spending more and more time reading about personal finance from other sources. Here are some of the articles and podcasts which I’ve been reading and listening to:

Articles

  • Nest Wealth vs. Wealthsimple: A Tale of Two Robo-Advisors via Boomer and Echo – A quick and dirty comparison of the two leading robo-advisors in Canada. I recently started an account through WealthSimple after listening to Jessica Moorhouse’s podcast. I’m kind of sick of hearing that Canadians pay some of the highest MERs in the world, so 0.35% – 0.50% through WealthSimple sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Nest Wealth charges a monthly subscription fee of $20/month, capped at $80/month; this would be more enticing if I had a big chunk of change.
  • The Complete Guide to Canada’s Robo Advisors via Young and Thrifty – A really good breakdown of the all major robo-advisors in Canada. Still a fantastic read, although longer read than the last article.screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-10-04-45-pm
  • The Best Financial Advice I Ever Got via ModernAdvisor – Yes, this article comes from a robo-advisor but they are pieces of advice from Canadian PF bloggers. Found this article posted on Twitter. Short read but a great one! Going through these quotes, I found myself nodding in agreement. Of course, all those tips and tricks that probably took me the last 5 years to learn …screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-10-05-46-pm

Podcasts

  • Jessica Moorhouse’s Mo Money podcast – The podcast I had mentioned a few posts ago. I’ve been hooked ever since my friend, Sarah Li-Cain of High Fiving Dollars, recommended it to me. Jessica originally hails from Vancouver, B.C., but now runs her business out of Toronto, Ontario.
  • Canadian Couch Potato podcast – If you’re a personal finance blogger or you read MoneySense magazine, than you’ve likely heard of Dan Bortolotti, CFP, CIM and the term, “The Couch Potato Strategy”. Dan is most well-known for his blog on teaching Canadians about investing in index mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). His podcast was just released in November 2016 and new shows will be posted every two weeks. Check out his first episode!

Alright! Now it’s off to bed. My brain is loaded with lots of new info and I hope I’ve inspired you to learn more about investing towards your own future. Please share if you enjoy these sources and you have some good leads too.

*Questrade’s Portfolio IQ

How One Podcast Causes Me To Lose Sleep (In a Good Way)

Tonight, I was relaxing with a glass of Cavespring 2014 Riesling in the bathtub. I was listening to an episode of the Mo’ Money podcast, whom my lovely childhood friend, Sarah Li Cain of High Fiving Dollars recently recommended to me. I really loved the  interview that Jessica Moorhouse had done with Gail Vaz-Oxlade, so I downloaded another episode of Mo’ Money with Bruce Sellery.

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If you live in Ontario, you may have seen Bruce Sellery on CityTV, or perhaps his articles in MoneySense magazine. After seeing that his book was highly recommended in MoneySense, I purchased and read his book in April, and decided that I need to reassess my RSPs using Sellery’s tips.

While listening to the podcast tonight, I realized that, since purchasing a 2-year GIC, I hadn’t done much more. I’m not sure whether the wine assertive, but I went to the Wealthsimple website, since Jessica Moorhouse said that using her link would get you an extra $50.

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But before I threw any funds in, I also wanted to see what the company was about, so I watched this great Lunch and Learn with CEO Michael Katchen, when he spoke at the MaRs Centre in Toronto back in 2015.

Yeah, it’s 30 minutes long:

Mmmmm, okay. He’s a pretty smart guy and he knows what he’s talking about. This seems like a good company and I’ve seen their ads floating around for a couple of years now. His vision is to give a simple, straightforward investment vehicle that all Canadians can get into without paying ridiculous fees*. Even though I just brought back my Questrade account from the dead, I need all the help I can get, sooooo … eeeh, might as well. I opened an account and threw down $2500 into an RSP account, while trying to figure out if I’ve already maxed my TSFAs for 2016. It won’t be processed until a couple of days from now, so at this point I stopped and wondered how tired I was.

And yes, now I’m blogging, my boyfriend is grumbling that it’s past my 10 pm bedtime. I check the clock and it’s 11:47 pm.

It’s not a Wiki-hole, but it’s kinda like one. At least I’m coming out financially better from this. I will tackle this further another day!

*It’s not a secret that Canadians pay some of the highest investing fees, including MERs.

New Questrade Account: Portfolio IQ

Two years ago, I started a self-directed Questrade account to buy stocks, on the recommendation of a friend, B.*. I bought a few property and resources stocks, but then locked myself out of my account when I entered my password incorrectly. Since April 2015, I haven’t touched my account at all and have been getting dinged $25/quarter. That means means I’ve lost $150 over just from letting my money sit there. I’d also incurred additional losses from not managing my stocks.

It’s not my proudest moment, yet all of us have something we put off, ignore or procrastinate on. Sharing my confession on my blog means that I hope others won’t make the same mistake!

This morning, 18 months later, I finally called in and reset my password. I’d considered closing the account altogether, since I am still extremely uncomfortable trading on my own. Yes, I’ve had a handful of female friends tell me it’s easy to learn and do, blah blah blabbity blah, but what I really need is someone to sit with me if I am going to go through it at all. It’s a huge weakness of mine, something of which I’ve been aware of for the last 8 years, but I still haven’t figured out how to get over it yet. Just because my late father worked in finance doesn’t mean I have any skill in it as his daughter!**

To my surprise, the Questrade clerk on the phone suggested that I could get my investments managed instead – unaware this service even existed – through Questrade Portolio IQ. The minimum to start is $2000 and of course, you have to pay management fees. I decided to throw down $2000 from my TSFAs, because fuck it, I need all the help I can get. If it means paying 0.007%, $14 is nothing.

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As you put in an application in, you go through a series of questions in a survey that helps determine how much risk you’d like to take. It also asks you how knowledgable you are in trading. I decided to be honest:

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Anyway, that is all that’s happened for now. I’m still waiting for the application to go through and to see what portfolio they’ll suggest to me after having stated that I’m interested medium-high risk investments.

I may start going through a Udemy course I’ve got on reading pricing charts, because I really do need to get back into the swing of (managing my financial) things.

*I also got a $25 bonus for using her sharing code.

**Although in many ways, we are quite similar. I suspect that he may also have been an INTJ or a similar MBTi Personality.

TSFAs Fees with Tangerine

I’ve spent a lot of money the past few months, both on travel (i.e. India) and fitness (i.e. gear, Cody programs, yoga props). Since it was payday today and I haven’t started contributing to my TSFAs yet, I thought I might as well throw some money for 2015 before deciding if I want to shift them elsewhereI.

Then I noticed an unread message in my Tangerine inbox:

TFSAs have no fees while you’re saving with us. If at some point you decide to transfer your funds to another financial institution, a $45 fee will apply.

GRRRRRRR. Good thing I read this.

I really really really REAAAAAALLLY should put more effort into trading, as I put my 2014 TSFAs into Questrade to play around. But I just don’t feel comfortable knowing what to buy. I always default to the priority of RSPs and car payments out of laziness, but I still need to learn more about trading …

CSBs or No?

My mom informed me that my RSP contribution room has dropped from $10926 to $9493. My TSFAs are maxed now; I really didn’t contribute much for RSPs this year and have another $6000 to go before year-end. I doubt I’ll be able to drop $1200 each paycheck …

I’m also considering signing up for the Canada Savings Bonds as well, but will have to look into it some more. I’ve never bought CSBs or CPBs before, so I don’t really know much about them except that they’re low-risk investments. A few things I learned as I did some research this afternoon:

From Get Smarter About Money:

  • Minimum $100 investment
  • Guaranteed interest rate
  • Regular- or compound-interest options
  • Can hold in a TFSA, RRSP or RRIF
  • CSBs have a lower interest rate than CPBs because you can cash them in at any time and get interest earned to date

From Million Dollar Journey:

  • If you withdraw within 3 months of issue, then you only get the face value back.  After that point, you’ll get face value plus accrued interest.

From the CSB website:

At this point, I don’t see how this will be any more advantageous to me. The rate of 0.5% seems far too low for it to be worthwhile, even if it was being matched by my employer. My current rate with Tangerine is 1.3%.

I’m not sure if I’m doing the math correctly, nor do I feel like I even know what I’m talking about, so if you have any input I’d REALLY appreciate it!

Finally Reinvesting

It’s official!

After two months of paperwork and waiting, I finally have opened a Questrade account. This is after three years of twiddling my thumbs after liquidating poorly-performing mutual funds.* I want to be more active in my investments and I know that for the past few years, I’ve been putting it off, despite having claimed that it is a priority. It was nice that my friend, B., sat down with me one evening and walked me through the platform. She gave me the little boot that I needed.

Currently, I am reading about the basics of trading stockshow orders are executed and different types of orders, such as limit vs. market.

I transferred my 2014 TSFAs over from Tangerine* and have decided I need to finally get my hands dirty. I’m not expecting to gain much; my primary goals for the next two to three months are:

  1. get comfortable with executing different types of orders and understanding when they are used
  2. watching a few stocks and reading trends in the markets
  3. calculating the cost of trades versus profits
  4. understanding the Questrade trading platform
  5. making a few bucks … but not losing!

At this time, just keeping it simple and playing around.

Yay for new projects (and actively reinvesting)! 

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*Mind you, I also went through the entire hassle of setting up a TD Waterhouse account. So for the past three years, I had $500 USD sitting dormant and not accumulating any interest, without ever having placed an order. Bad Me.

**Formerly known as ING Direct