Who I’m Reading — 2019 Edition

Who I’m Reading — 2019 Edition

As the original content here at the ol’ FU machine slows from a trickle to potentially being blocked by kidney stones (finally, a urinary tract joke here at Financial Uproar), I figure I have two options. I can either post more or set you kids off in a different direction to read some folks who are absolutely killing it.

Laziness wins here usually, and today is no exception. But this kind of counts as new FU content, right? What if Italics Man showed up? God I hate that guy.

I figure I’ll divide this bad boy into different parts for the different types of blogs I’m following these days. Let’s start with the personal finance folks and move on from there.

Let me say before I start that I’ll likely be leaving out plenty of blogs I read and enjoy, but not with the same veracity as these ones. It’s a great time to be a finance aficionado. There are literally hundreds of blogs out there filled with useful information presented in a entertaining way.

Personal Finance

Some of these will combine personal finance with a little investing stuff. STAY IN YOUR LANE YOU RAT BASTARDS. Sorry, I have an anger problem.

Gen Y Money 

Gen Y Money is authored by a mid-30s anonymous author out of Vancouver, the former owner of Young and Thrifty and one of my original internet girlfriends. You may scoff at such a thing being juvenile and immature, but another one of my former internet girlfriends is now my wife. Seriously. Sorry, Gen Y Money but we’re sidetracking here. We’ll be back to you in a minute.

In 2012 I wrote the third post in an annual installment called Hot Finance Blogger Chicks, back when this blog was even creeper and more desperate than it is now. I became friends with one of the women featured and things went from there. We were dating a couple years later and have now been married for 3.5 years. How I managed to pull that off is beyond me. And since I don’t want to tell people how we really met, I just say “oh, we met online.” Which is a shame. I should tell that story!

Anyhoo, back to Gen Y Money. Somehow, after working a full-time job, being a mom to a toddler, and traveling a ton, she still has time to post some of the best finance content out there. She has solid net worth yet lives a pretty modest life, constantly watching her pennies despite being well on her way to becoming a millionaire. And that’s without her husband’s contribution, and I’m pretty sure that guy is loaded.

My Money Wizard

There are very few bloggers I’d encourage to quit their job and write full-time. I practically begged the guy behind My Money Wizard to do so in an email exchange we had a few months ago. Other bloggers are writing posts like 5 Ways to Save On Groceries (Use Coupons!) while he’s doing Build Wealth 6.5 Times Faster By Adding Compound Savings to Compound Interest. Which would you rather read? Exactly.

And this isn’t the same old content recycled with a sexy title, either. It’s consistently good stuff. MMW has the ability to look at personal finances in a unique way yet still distill it down to what’s really important.

Mr. Tako Escapes

There are two different types of financial independence blogs out there. The first clearly exists as a way to make money for the early retiree, and I follow very few of these. Oh, you travel hacked yourself a vacation and you just happen to write about it in a blog post with plenty of affiliate links? Oh, yeah, this is for my benefit.

Mr. Tako’s post-retirement life is delightfully normal in comparison. He eats most meals at home and spends time entertaining his kids. They travel a bit, but not much. Hey, the kids are in school. He keeps busy blogging, doing housework, and so on. It’s not nearly as sexy as living abroad or traveling a ton, but I enjoy it.

Mr. Tako’s investing posts are top notch, as are some of the recipes he posts. Perhaps his greatest talent is he doesn’t take any crap from commenters. I love it.

Asset-Based Life

Paul from Asset-Based Life might be the best personal finance blogger nobody reads. Or maybe people read him now, I dunno. He’s entertaining, funny, and every post is just dripping with nuggets of wisdom. And he recommended a delightfully cheesy magic show I saw last time I was in Vegas. Hell, he’s even invited me to visit on multiple occasions. I will take advantage of this in the most selfish way one day, by showing up at the airport unannounced and demanding he chauffeur my ass around. Paul will do it because he might be the perfect man.

Investing

This section will be longer. With the exception of the blogs featured in the first part of this, I just don’t read much personal finance stuff any longer. Sorry, guys. I just don’t need to.

Don’t Fuck With Donville

Let’s start with a recent new blog I discovered called Don’t Fuck With Donville. This guy is great. He’s a growth investor with preference with high ROE companies that have good growth potential, just like former hedge fund darling Jason Donville. He swears worse than I do (yes, it is possible), unabashedly drinks too much and partakes in some now legal whaccy tabaccy. It’s the funniest blog out there without the initials FU.

Divestor

If you like contrarian thinking about all sorts of Canadian small-cap companies, Divestor is your place. He’s one of the best analysts out there. My only issue is his post frequency has dried up a bit over the last few months. COME ON MAN, I NEED MY FIX.

Canadian Value Stocks

There’s a reason why I was linking to Tyler every damn link dump. He finds cheap obscure companies and does an absurd amount of research on them. You can tell he’s legitimately interested in becoming the best investor he can be, rather than just trying to leverage this into a job or notoriety.

I’d like to sit and have a beer with everyone on this list, but Tyler would probably be #1. We’d geek out for hours and maybe I’d go in for a kiss during a particularly tender moment. WHATEVER GUYS IT’S 2019 WE’RE OKAY WITH THAT NOW.

Money Maaster

Big fan of Jordan’s despite his clear inability to spell master right. Wait I’m being told that’s actually his name. Nah, I’m not buying it. Change your name to something better, Jordan.

Jordan and I have a very similar investing strategy. We both insist on dividends, and both can even be talked into some of the better dividend growth names. But we both insist on getting decent value, too. There’s some overlap in our portfolios, and I often find myself interested in the names he discusses.

Dividend Growth Investor

DGI is one of the original dividend growth guys on the interwebz, blogging about his favorite kinds of stocks for longer than a decade now. He’s tremendously respected, and it’s easy to see why.

Much of his premium writing is now reserved for his newsletter subscribers, which is great for his business but a little sad for the rest of us cheap bastards who are too big of a tightwad to pay the very reasonable subscription fee. I can’t help but feel a little responsible for this; I encouraged the guy to start his newsletter for like a year before he finally got around to it. If you’re going to pay anyone for help, make it DGI.

I’d almost consider the guy a friend and I couldn’t tell you the first thing about him. The internet is a weird place sometimes.

Ian Bezek

Like DGI, Ian Bezek keeps a lot of his writing exclusive to paying customers, but he’s generous enough to keep a steady stream available to shlebs like me who get kicked out of exclusive clubs like Ian’s Insider Corner.

What I like best about Ian is his relentless skepticism and contrarian thinking. I remember first discovering him after he commented on some of the dividend growth articles on Seeking Alpha, basically saying that a lot of the dividend growth names were overvalued and you needed to be selective. And guess what? He was right!

He currently lives in Colombia, which I think gives him a pretty unique view on the world versus a U.S. or Canadian-based analyst. And he was kind enough to write about Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico, which is a fantastic growth stock in a terrific business. I bought it only because he brought it to my attention, and I’m up approximately 30% plus dividends.

Trapping Value

If you’re into distressed Canadian assets usually with big dividend yields (and really, who isn’t?), then Trapping Value is your man. He combines thoughtful analysis, subtle jokes, and just the right amount of snark into some of the best analysis out there. And he’s prolific, too. That dude churns out good stuff more often than I change my underpants.

That’s it, kids

You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.

Case Study: How Not To Retire on $3.57 Million

Case Study: How Not To Retire on $3.57 Million

After approximately 5,392 weeks of slacking, I’m back with another fantastic financial facelift from the ol’ Globe and Mail. You might remember the last one of these we did, over at Don’t Quit Your Day Job, where I made fun of two people with an obvious spending problem who wondered if they could afford to retire.

But that couple, which were worth a mere $2.1 million, have been upstaged. This week’s financial facelift features a couple who are literally swimming in cash, but naturally they worry about being about to meet their spending goals. So they wrote into a newspaper to help, and we’ve got all the lurid details.

Let’s do this thang.

As a partner in a large and successful firm, Elliott has earned good money throughout his working life. Now he’s preparing to leave his career behind and retire next fall. His wife, Eva, is no longer working.

Elliott is 59, Eva, 55. They have two grown children.

Their biggest fear, Elliott writes in an e-mail, is that the stock market will fall soon after Elliott quits working “and we run out of money.” 

You’ll soon understand that as far as biggest fears go, Elliott’s fear of running out of cash is realistically up there with other great fears like “being struck by lightning” and “suffocating while trying to get super close to passing out while having a incredibly intense orgasm.”

They’d like to leave their cottage to their children and pay any estate tax that would be due on it. Their annual spending goal is $120,000 after tax.

THERE IT IS. GOD I LOVE ME SOME SPENDING GOALS. HOOK THAT SHIT TO MY VEINS, YO.

First, Mr. Calvert looks at their RRSPs, the foundation of their retirement income. They have a combined total of $1.56-million in RRSP accounts.

$1.56 million? But that’s not even close to eight figures. How will Elliott and Eva ever hope to survive? Will Tuesdays be dumpster diving day? Maybe!

Don’t worry, they have more than their RRSPs to draw from.

If they each withdrew $35,000 from their RRIFs, that plus the investment income from their non-registered portfolio would give them taxable income of about $50,000 each, the planner says.

I’m skipping a bit here, but what this really means is they can withdraw $35,000 each from their RRSPs annually, and $15,000 each from non-registered accounts so large they can afford $15,000/year withdrawals. We’re up to a mere $100,000 in total household income. Oh the humanity!

That’s until they both begin taking Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits at age 65,” he adds.

Another source of income? And from both of them? More than $1 million in RRSPs, substantial other assets, and CPP/OAS payments? God, these people are so screwed.

By the way, just how well are these people doing, anyway?

Assets: Stock portfolio $780,245; investments in holding companies $281,115; his TFSA $75,675; her TFSA $75,790; his RRSP $965,285; her RRSP $593,515; residence $550,000; cottage lot $350,000. Total: $3.67-million

“We are firmly in the 1%. How can we ever possibly afford to retire?!?!?!?!?!?!”

$3.67 million invested in dividend stocks paying a mere 3% yield comes to $110,000 each year in annual income, btw. No, I’m sorry. That’s a bad plan. They should write into a newspaper instead.

Liabilities: Home equity line of credit $100,000

I, uh, have questions. Why does this debt even exist?

If investing for dividends is the easy solution, then cutting down some of their overspending is solution 1a. Check out some of this stuff.

vehicle insurance $220; fuel $500; maintenance $375;

and then, a few items down:

 car loan $1,500

Yes, kids. That’s more than $2,500 per month these people are spending on their cars. How does one have a car new enough to need a massive loan payment but also need to spend $375/month on maintenance?

grocery store $1,200

For two people. Or maybe four, because they have two grown kids that are likely still shacking up in mom and dad’s basement.

vacation, travel $1,500

$18,000 per year in travel. I’m beginning to run out of snark and it’s just devolving to full-blown rage.

dining, drinks, entertainment $1,475

For those of you keeping track at home, that’s $2,675 each month for two people to eat. That’s $29.72 per meal, or about $90 per day. I’m going to venture out and say that if they tried, ol’ Elliott and Eva could bring that down just a smidge.

life insurance $550

How do two people with a net worth of $3.57 million need life insurance? That planner sold them a hefty life insurance plan, didn’t he?

Let’s wrap this sucker up

I loved every minute of this one. Whether it was the outlandish “spending goal”, the multiple streams of income, or the close to $4 million net worth, it was perfect in every way. I’m glad these people continue to write into newspapers for our ongoing mocking purposes.

How Could Blockchain Influence Different Industries?

How Could Blockchain Influence Different Industries?

Despite warnings about the risks associated with investing in crypto, it is almost as if investors pay no attention and just do their own thing – because it is certainly attracting backing from different areas. Those who read regularly will know we have written – perhaps ranted is more accurate – about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin a lot, but the fact is that this and rivals like Ethereum and Litecoin are popular investments and that is where blockchain technology becomes very important indeed.

A big issue that has been raised here about crypto is that it has risks that you don’t get with more traditional investments – well blockchain tech is an attempt to reduce these red flags. It was created specifically to track Bitcoin transactions and it works by storing all these as chains in block form, hence the really unimaginative name ‘blockchain’. This info is made secure by cryptography, but I know you want me to get to the point, so how is it impacting on industry?

Well the financial industry is the one that it is changing the most right now as a result of blockchain technology, with several major banks already looking at adopting it for their transactions. One big reason that they are doing so is that using blockchain allows for these transactions to be carried out a lot more quickly, which probably sounds pretty appealing if you have ever experienced the wait for your bank to clear a cheque. Then there is the matter of security.

Most people don’t really think about cyber-fraud until the day someone hacks their credit cards and uses them to buy a Ferrari, but blockchain actually has the potential to reduce it. As mentioned above, the blocks of information on each list are protected by cutting-edge cryptography that makes them difficult to hack into or change without authorisation. Blockchain tech also decentralises the information across lots of personal PCs, which means it can’t be corrupted by a single person or group of hackers.

It is not just the financial sector that blockchain tech could revolutionise though, as it has the potential to improve other ones as well. For example, who wouldn’t want their private – and potentially embarrassing – medical information stored on a database that only those with the necessary authorisation could read. Equally, the communications industry could benefit from blockchain tech providing a secure record of all discussions that take place and enabling genuinely two-way automated communications.

Blockchain also offers a way for the online casino industry to increase the level of confidence its customers have in it, by allowing the latter to examine a casino’s previous transactions to see whether they are reliable at paying out to winners. Gambling always involves some element of risk, but we all want to get our money if we win.

Whether you are a believer or sceptic when it comes to crypto, blockchain tech does reduce the risks and that could see it adopted by a range of industries.

Is Investing In Cannabis Shares a Sound Decision?

Is Investing In Cannabis Shares a Sound Decision?

Canada’s decision to legalize the medical and recreational use of cannabis last year put the world in a pretty interesting situation. Right now, a person in the European Union, where growing, selling, and using cannabis is either illegal or at least frowned upon, can own shares in a company that grows and sells cannabis in Canada or the United States. From a legal standpoint, cannabis is perhaps the most controversial commodity in the world today – in some countries, it is considered a type of medicine, in others, it is put in the same category as cocaine. At the same time, given the boost legal cannabis gave Canada’s economy, there is a chance other countries will want at least a small slice of this delicious and intoxicating pie. Still, given the controversial regulations in force regarding it, is investing in cannabis a sound decision?

A multi-billion market

Cannabis is big business – otherwise, it wouldn’t’ve been worth the risk for drug cartels around the world. The global cannabis market was worth $12.2 billion in 2018 (remember, these figures only cover the three countries where it is legal) and it is expected to grow by more than 35% this year, to close to $17 billion. There are countries that consider either decriminalizing its use (usually the first step toward legalization) or approving its consumption. Countries like France and Italy in the EU and Lebanon in the Middle East are also talking about the potential legalization of pot for medical or recreational use. Slowly but steadily, the sinful cannabis stocks are becoming less sinful.

Fast-growing stocks

As demand for (legal) cannabis increases, hemp farmers and processors will see their sales skyrocket. Aphria (NYSE: APHA), one of the largest cannabis companies in the world, is expected to see its sales grow by 407%, the Motley Fool writes, and their growth is on the more low-key side compared to businesses like Aurora Cannabis (TSE: ACB) with sales growth of close to 600%, OrganiGram Holdings (CVE: OGI) with close to 900% or Hexo (TSE: HEXO), that is expected to see its sales soar by up to 2,000% (yes, two thousand percent) this year. Canada’s decision to legalize pot was the first step among the many needed for cannabis to shed its “illegal” label and gain a lot of legitimacy, especially when it comes to CBD, its not-so-psychoactive alkaloid, which is seen as a natural and effective anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic compound, and is the active ingredient in the US’s first FDA-approved cannabis-based medicine. What do you think: is investing in legal cannabis a sound decision in 2019?

An Ode To 22-Year-Old Nelson

An Ode To 22-Year-Old Nelson

I would just like to take the opportunity to thank 2005 Nelson for everything he did so 2019 Nelson could live in comfort. Gosh, what a guy. I’d buy him a drink because Lord knows he was too damn cheap to buy one himself.

I remember one night working overnights at the ol’ grocery store where I decided on a path for my life. I would become a millionaire by the time I was 30. Then I could do whatever I wanted. I told my buddy and he actually believed I could do it.

So I did everything possible to get there. I walked to work despite it being a 20+ minute one way trip.And then I’d walk 8-10km per shift. Not surprisingly, I lost weight doing this job.

Working overnights came with other added benefits. Not only did I go to town on all the old donuts — which were free for the night shift guys — I also didn’t have many evenings free to hang out with my friends. Yes, I actively discouraged having a social life to end up slightly richer. I’d hang out a bit with my co-workers after work, but for the most part I’d come home at 9am, put on the ol’ BNN (ROBTV back then), and pass out at noon. I’d be up at 9:30pm to do it all over again.

By the time I was 22 I was promoted to Evening Manager, which came with a half-decent raise and plenty of opportunities for overtime. I even got a bonus at the end of the year. I maybe could have made more by moving to Alberta’s booming energy sector (remember, this is 2005), but I stayed put because I liked the steadiness of the grocery business and I didn’t want to work outside.

I did sometimes consider moving a little closer to work, but never seriously. That’s because I lived in my parents’ basement for the low, low price of $200 per month. I took full advantage of that deal and stayed until I hit 25. I figure that decision alone put $100,000 into my pocket.

Young Nelson wasn’t just being a cheap ass. He was also investing as fast as he could. Every spare dollar was put to work, first into real estate until those deals dried up. Then my cash was split into the stock market and our rapidly growing private mortgage business. I invested all I could and then borrowed to invest some more. I remember going into the bank as a 22-year-old and asking them to use the equity in another rental house for a down payment on a new property. And they actually agreed to it. No wonder the Canadian housing market is in a giant bubble.

In short, the first few years of my adult life were spent sacrificing so older Nelson could afford to take it easy. Young Nelson has never been fully thanked for it, so I’d like to take the opportunity to do so now. Thanks young Nelson. You’re the best.

And one more thing, young Nelson. Don’t worry, you will actually have some success with the ladies. They’ll start to appreciate what you’re doing in a few years. At least a couple of them do.

What about balance?

It’s a good thing young Nelson didn’t read anything on the internet about balance. Because he sacrificed everything those first few years.

I remember cracking $30,000 in yearly earnings for the first time That year I probably spent $5,000 all-in. My biggest expense was rent, but I made that worthwhile by eating all my parents’ food. I’d have the occasional meal at McDonald’s. I walked everywhere and my entertainment was cable TV, downloading music on the internet, and library books.

That’s an 83.3% savings rate. Not every year was that good, but I bet I averaged a 75% savings rate until I moved out at age 25.

Young Nelson sacrificed greatly so older Nelson doesn’t have to worry about money any longer. I know that the $25,000 I saved as a 20-year-old isn’t alone responsible for where I’m at today, but it was a damn good start. It bought assets that are still spinning off reliable cash flow today. I just did it over and over again.

The thing is I remember this not being much of a sacrifice to young Nelson. Sure, he wanted a car, but would always balk at the price, especially for insurance. Walking everywhere really wasn’t a big deal. Those free donuts were still damned delicious. My parents’ basement was comfortable and spacious. And most importantly, making these decisions allowed me to get rich in a hurry while the rest of my generation was piling on student loan debt.

So to young Nelson and to everyone else living that kind of life so they can be free in the future, I salute you. And trust me, the journey is worth it.