Although my personal goals are to work less rather than more going forward, I realize y’all might see things differently. And since increasing your income is best way to improve your total financial picture, a side hustle often recommended by the powers to be.
There are a million different side hustles you can do. Some of my favorites include reffing sports (free exercise, tubby!), starting up a blogening (a business that scales forever), or renting out some unused space on AirBnb. The beauty of AirBnb is you can expand it by renting additional space rather than tying up your capital owning property.
I even have my own side hustle. I still work a grocery store job 1-2 days a week, mostly for the interaction with people that aren’t my cat. I also (mostly) enjoy the work and the money’s nice too. Getting a discount on groceries is an added bonus.
There’s just one problem with side hustles like mine. There’s a certain amount of commitment that comes with it. The grocery store doesn’t let me come in whenever I want. Kids sports don’t just happen when you show up either. This isn’t a big deal for me, but probably would be for someone with a more traditional full-time job.
The best side hustles are those that allow you to make money at your leisure. Ideally you’d probably also want something that stimulates the mind a bit (I said mind, you prevert) too, but ultimately the goal is making money and having fun doing it at your own speed.
This side hustle delivers. And because it’s slightly technologically advanced I’m calling it a perfect side hustle for 2019.
2019: the year technology finally makes all of your non-sexual dreams come true.
What is it?
Okay, no more teasing. 2019’s best side hustle is flipping crap you find on Facebook.
Facebook’s marketplaces are pretty much the perfect example of inefficient markets, at least in my small town. There are very few interested buyers yet people still insist on selling this stuff locally.
Smartphones are a big one. People upgrade their phones and then want to get a few bucks for the old one. They know getting more money is possible if they sell it on eBay, but they’re too lazy to create an account. Besides, that’ll take weeks to do, and they want their money today, dammit. Or maybe tomorrow. FRIDAY’S TOO LATE. I’LL STARVE BY THEN.
This creates an inefficient market, one you can exploit for monetary gain and possibly the admiration of the opposite sex (results pending on that last part). I regularly see phones that go for $250-$300 on eBay trading hands for $100 on local buy and sell groups.
This is easy money just waiting for you to come along and take.
You’ll have to do a little work to get paid, but not much. Figuring out which phones are stolen is pretty easy. There are things to look for. Or maybe you insist on buying phones with the box included. I dunno. This isn’t hard. Find some small shipping boxes and you’re in business.
Phones aren’t the only thing worth flipping. Video game systems usually sell at a big discount locally too. I’ve seen tablets that can easily be resold for a nice gain. Basically anything small that has decent sales volume on eBay can be flipped profitably. But if your local market is anything like mine, phones will be your bread and butter. It’s amazing how many of them are out there.
(Aside: the only thing more inefficient is Facebook’s used appliance market. I’ve seen perfectly good 5-year-old washers/dryers sell for 5-10% the price of a new one. This is how I’ll replace those appliances when mine crap out)
Feeling lazy? No problem. The phone flipping side hustle doesn’t require any regular hours or any physical labor. All you need is a Facebook account, a scrolling finger (pro tip: use your thumb), and a little initial capital. I guess you need an eBay account and Paypal too, but this shit ain’t hard. Get at it, sparky.
You get to go on these online auctions and do your best Dave Hester impression, bidding this stuff up when you don’t even want it. I can think of few hobbies that allow being an asshole as a fringe benefit.
Approximately six times a week some PR person pitches me a guest post opportunity with some so-called expert who can share their pearls of wisdom with you folks here.
I wish I was exaggerating this for comedic effect, but I’m not. Just imagine how many pitches non-terrible bloggers get.
Most of these are hot garbage, of course. Instead of building up a following from the ground up (which is hard, dammit), they seek to speed up the process by hiring a public relations firm. This firm then does the dirty work of promoting, and hopefully the author makes a few extra bucks after paying for their services.
(Interesting aside fact: many of these authors don’t even care about making any money. They just want to add “best-selling author” to their resumes, a fact they’ll proudly display even after the book only sells 14 copies.)
I’ve never said yes to any of these pitches because none of them ever sound very interesting. I’d love to get new and unique voices here on the FU machine. Those people are not showing up in my inbox represented by a PR firm.
Instead I get stuff like this, which will now be presented for mocking purposes. Take it away, PR firm.
Seriously, this is the stuff I get
Today’s topic is from something called MILLENNIAL MONEY MAKEOVER, a book about paying off debt and whatnot. The author, some guy, (he’s had enough free promotion) has a seven step method to paying down debt.
Seven steps? Shouldn’t it just be one step? Step 1: pay off your debt. Easy.
Uh, no. Let’s go through each step to bask in the magnificence of this pitch.
Step 1. Acknowledge your credit card debt
I know people live in denial, but this is silly. You “acknowledge” credit card debt exists every time you open up your statement and pay that ol’ minimum balance. Is it really a step if it takes less than a second?
Step 2. List your credit card debts in ascending order
Oh no. Guys. Is he going to recommend the debt snowball method?
Once you have all of your credit cards laid out in the correct order, the credit card with the smallest balance on your list is what you are going to attack and eliminate first. Write down the balance and post it in a prominent place. Look at it repeatedly. That number is your first target.
OH GODDAMMIT NO. NO. WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN.
Balances mean nothing. Tackle the highest interest rates first. Say you owe the following and can dedicate $10,000 in payments:
- Car loan (0.9%): $5,000
- Student loan (3.9%): $7,500
- Credit card (18.9%): $10,000
By tackling the credit card last you’re paying like $2,500 in extra interest versus paying it off first.
I understand psychology is important when paying off debt but you know what’s importanter? Math.
Using words that actually exist isn’t that important either.
Step 3. Create a flash budget
The fuck is this? A flash budget? Sounds flashy.
[S]tart building what I like to call a flash budget. Begin by analyzing your monthly income and expenses, and list out all sources of income. Once that is complete, create another list for your expenses, both fixed and variable. Subtract your expenses from income, and the difference is your margin to attack credit card debt.
Oh, so a flash budget is just a regular budget? Nice. Glad we cleared that up.
Step 4. Snowball your success
Now he’s just rubbing it in my face, repeating his wrong advice from step 2. I haven’t even met this guy and I already hate him.
By paying off your smallest balances first, you create momentum. This leads to higher confidence to tackle the larger balances in your debt portfolio. Conventional wisdom will tell you otherwise.
Conventional wisdom will tell you otherwise because it’s right.
But as you know, personal finance is about much more than numbers. Although this approach makes the most economic sense, paying off debt quickly doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
You know what bugs me the most about this advice? It assumes everyone who’s in debt is a complete moron who has to use psychological tricks to make sure they pay it off. Smart, educated people get in debt. They aren’t dumb. Give them a little credit.
Step 5. Pay with cash
AKA don’t pile on more debt. Good.
Step 6. Celebrate your wins
The jist of this step it to reward yourself with “going to the movies, out for dinner, or to a concert” each time you pay off one of your debts. Where exactly does this end, anyway? Are you going to reward yourself with a new pair of shoes when you pay back the $20 you owe your buddy? Take yourself out for dinner when you finally take care of that parking ticket?
Step 7. Share your success
Ah debt, the thing we accumulate in private and then brag about repaying. The only thing worse than listening to your friend who’s all about debt repayment is listening to your friend who’s all about keto now. DO YOU KNOW WHAT CARBS ARE DOING TO YOUR BODY? Shut up dude, nachos are delicious.
So to review, our seven-step process for paying off debt has, what, one step dedicated to paying off debt. And even then, that step discounts the correct way of doing it. What a great list. I’m glad I received it.
The best part
So I went and looked up the book behind all this on Amazon and I swear to God this happened.
What a perfect way to end this crappy article.
I’m taking my mom to Las Vegas because I am the nicest son ever.
Why’d everyone start laughing suddenly? Weird.
This is no real sacrifice on my part, since I’m a big fan of the ol’ Sin City. I plan to consume my weight in delicious buffets and then yell at some no-good comic on a stage somewhere. I’M FUNNIER THAN YOU AND I JUST HAVE A DUMB BLOG. I SHOULD BE UP THERE. And then everyone will clap, I’ll be invited on stage, and the next thing you know I’ll have ditched y’all for my own Vegas show.
My wife suggested I dust off my old MyVegas account and see if I could use it to get a 2-for-1 buffet coupon or two. I thought this was a capital idea, so I rushed over to the Facebook (disclosure: long the stock) and did some vigorous clicking.
For those of you unfamiliar, MyVegas is a slots game you play on Facebook or its own mobile app. You get coins for playing or accomplishing certain milestones. These coins can then be exchanged for 2-for-1 coupons, free attractions, discounted show tickets, and so on.
So I go on the MyVegas part of Facebook — which is still better than 90% of the memes shared by your uncle — and did a double take. I remembered clearing out most of my coins the last time I went to Vegas itself, but apparently not. I had enough for a 2-for-1 buffet for three nights of my trip with plenty of coins left over.
This’ll save my mom and I at least $100, easy. And that’s U.S. Dollars. That translates into approximately $1.6 million in local currency. Don’t look it up, I’m right.
Not bad for a few minutes of clicking.
Links I liked
1. Let’s start things off with one of my favorites, Tyler from Canadian Value Stocks. He profiled Information Services Corp, a boring-sounding stock that has a pretty boring main business. It might be dull, but it’s a pretty fantastic business. I own some, although I’m down a bit on my purchase.
2. Liquid Independence is back with a nice reminder of the benefits of owning assets outside of the stock market, especially as equities fall. The psychological benefits of not having to decrease the value of private real estate by 20% on your balance sheet are huge, especially when the rest of your portfolio is taking it on the chin.
3. Up next is a fascinating look at an investor who crushed the index over a 20-year period. Rather than continuing to invest he’s trying to make his edge disappear. This is worth your time.
4. Here’s an analyst that thinks Amazon should move into gas stations, an idea that sounds less and less crazy the more I think of it.
5. Let’s highlight a couple of year-end reports next. Divestor weighs in with his results for 2018 and has some predictions for the year ahead. Boomer and Echo also recaps his 2018 but without the predictions. He’s too smart for that shit.
6. Some more 2018 years in review? Sure, why not. Let’s check in on a couple of dividend bloggers. Matthew from All About the Dividends hit $6,000 in annual income, while My Own Advisor did $17,221 (from his TFSA and taxable account only). Mike the Dividend Guy also reported great results. And I almost forgot about Rob from Passive Canadian Income.
7. Oh hey, let’s split up this party with some of my own writing. Here’s a better way to play Alberta’s potential recovery rather than buying oil stocks, and I also talked about how buying REITs instead of a house will make you richer over the long-term.
8. Over at Cut the Crap Investing Dale Roberts threw us dividend investors a bone and published model ETF portfolios designed to generate income. Good stuff as always.
9. Here’s Value Stock Geek’s year in review. It wasn’t a good year for the hardcore value investor, but I really like his commentary and thought process.
And that about does it for this week. Tune into FU (yes, this is just like a TV show) next week for articles mocking debt repayment tips, my picks for a stock picking contest, and why I never reinvest dividends.
Have a great weekend, everyone.
Are some of you actually investing in GICs?
I actually have a small portion of my net worth in a GIC. Back in 2014 I had a RRSP GIC come due. Rather than put it to work in what I viewed as an overvalued stock market, I told my bank to put it back into a five-year GIC. Even if it did worse than the underlying market, I still didn’t hate the idea of having a little fixed income exposure.
I’m too lazy to look it up, but that GIC didn’t pay me a whole bunch of interest. It was probably locked in for just over 2% annually.
Say it was worth $10,000. After five years it would be worth just a hair over $11,000. That’s about as exciting as my favorite ride at the amusement park.
(It’s a bench, okay? The teacups make my tummy hurt :()
Let’s take a minute to compare that to one of the lamest (read: safest) stocks out there, Fortis (TSX:FTS).
The power of dividend growth
I could look back and compare Fortis shares to my potential GIC investment five years ago, but I don’t think that would be entirely accurate. After all, I know Fortis has done well. So instead we’ll look forward.
Interest rates have gone up a bit, so I’d be able to lock in my $11,000 investment into a five-year GIC paying 3.25%. Oh baby! I’ll be rich in no time!
Blog genies, insert a gif of somebody making it rain 20s at the club.
Okay, never mind.
THERE IT IS GUYS. I DID A .GIF.
Anyhoo, that GIC investment would be worth about $12,950 at the end of the next five years with zero chance of additional capital gains. If I was able to reinvest it at 3.25% it would generate $420.69 in annual income, which is pretty much the perfect number.
It’s actually $420.87, but like I’d want the truth to stand in the way of a good joke.
Now let’s compare that to an investment in Fortis, which currently yields 3.9%. After five years of dividend investment — which assumes no capital gain on the underlying price of the stock or dividend growth — I’d have $13,367. This investment would then spin off $521.31 in annual income.
It’s already better than a GIC. But it’s about to get a whole lot better.
Fortis has already told investors it plans to increase the dividend by 6% annually over the next five years. So we’re looking at payments of:
- Year 1: 3.9%
- Year 2 : 4.13%
- Year 3: 4.38%
- Year 4: 4.64%
- Year 5: 4.92%
You’re looking at about 27% more income in year five versus year one. That means that after five years you’d have an investment worth $13,638 and that spins off annual income of $711.
Remember, the GIC’s annual income stream is worth $420 after five years. You’d have 69% more income (GIGGITY) by sticking with the dividend growth path.
The other way
You don’t have to invest in dividend growth stocks to accomplish this. Any old dividend stock will do.
Let’s take a look at a stock I actually own, H&R REIT (TSX:HR.UN). It currently pays a 6.7% dividend with with very little dividend growth.
If I invest $11,000 into H&R REIT and automatically reinvest my dividends, after five years I’ll have an investment worth $15,268 assuming no capital gains on the stock. This investment would spit out passive income worth $1,022.95 on an annual basis.
Fortis pays a 3.9% dividend that should grow at 6% a year. H&R pays a 6.7% dividend that might not grow at all. But as long as I reinvest those H&R dividends I can create the same compounding effect. And since H&R’s current income starts out much higher than Fortis’s I can ensure it always stays ahead.
Remember, I don’t have to keep the investment in H&R (or Fortis), either. I can further diversify it into different stocks.
Basically, it comes down to this. Dividend growth is good. You should strive for it.
But remember, you don’t need to reinvest your dividends into the same stock to get the full impact. As long as they’re invested into something on a regular basis you’ll create the same compounding effect.
It’s finally here!
What, you bought some deodorant?
That doesn’t even make sense.
I hate you. Does that make sense?
Italics man should have made a New Year’s resolution to be nicer to people.
And you should have made a New Year’s resolution to not suck so much!
I originally ripped this idea off Mr. Tako Escapes, who probably ripped it off some unsuspecting chump and/or chumpette. And then they probably ripped it off from a library book. All I’m saying is I don’t feel too bad since there’s no such thing as an original idea any more. Besides, he hasn’t done one since October, which means as declared by the decree “he abandoned it, therefore it’s mine” this idea now belongs to me.
That’s enough terrible preamble. Let’s do this thing. Note that this only includes stocks I haven’t bought already. I might just average down on those bad boys. I’ll then do an update at the end of the month outlining what I bought.
American Hotel Properties
Note I wrote a bunch more words about this over at the (basically) dead CDI blog:
American Hotel Properties (TSX:HOT.UN) owns 112 different hotels spread across 89 cities in 32 states. It has evolved over the years from owning value hotels that catered to rail workers to much nicer brands through a series of acquisitions.
The first thing that should catch your eye is the stock’s 13% dividend, which is paid in U.S. Dollars. You gotta like that. The payout ratio is sustainable on a trailing 12 month basis, but only barely. Recent numbers have been lackluster because of important hotels being renovated. It’s also a seasonal business, so we really won’t know the impact of these renos until the spring.
The stock is insanely cheap on all the traditional value metrics. It trades at 70% of book value and at just 1.1 times sales. It posted US$0.67 per share in adjusted funds from operations over the last year, which puts shares at approximately 7x AFFO once we convert back to local currency. That’s damn cheap.
Two big red flags are the company’s debt (which stands at about 60% of assets, which is too much) and the CEO was just replaced with his brother. Note this isn’t a family controlled company. The new CEO (and other insiders) have been buying stock aggressively over the last couple months, and the CEO has elected to get paid entirely in stock. Insider buying is usually a pretty bullish signal.
Both Linamar (TSX:LNR) and Magna (TSX:MG) are depressed for pretty much the same reasons. People are worried about an upcoming recession hitting auto sales hard and there’s always the possibility further tariffs may be passed.
This is creating a fantastic buying opportunity for both these names. Linamar trades at 5 times trailing earnings. Magna trades at 6.7 times earnings. Linamar also trades at 0.8 times book; Magna is slightly more expensive at 1.4 times book. Magna’s dividend yield is nearly 3%, much more attractive than Linamar’s 1% yield. And Magna has a history of annual dividend growth behind it. Linamar’s dividend growth is much more sporadic.
What really appeals to me about Magna is the share buyback program. Shares outstanding have decreased from 486 million at the end of 2011 to approximately 350 million shares today. And it has authorization to buyback an additional 33 million shares over the next year.
I’ve been researching Magna for months now. I’ll likely pull the trigger sometime this month.
Intertape Polymer (TSX:ITP) is a stock I’m quite familiar with. I bought in 2008 for $2.50 per share. I sold some at $7 and then the rest at $12. It promptly went up to $20. Oh well.
The company makes various plastic products. 60% of revenues come from various tape products, with the rest spread out between films, protective packaging, and woven. In a world where more and more stuff will be shipped after being purchased at websites, this isn’t such a bad business to be in.
There’s also plenty of potential to acquire smaller competitors. The company has spent about $500 million on six small acquisitions since 2015. This has left the balance sheet a bit stretched — net debt is about $500M versus a $1B market cap — but these deals are easy ways to acquire top-line growth.
Valuation is sound, with shares trading at approximately 12x trailing earnings or 10.5 times forward earnings expectations. The stock pays a 4% dividend too, although it appears dividend growth has been halted.
I’m usually not a big fan of paying more than book value for a REIT, but I just can’t help it with Smart REIT (TSX:SRU.UN). They are damn smart (heh!) operators.
Let’s start with the Walmart exposure. They’ve intentionally centered their portfolio around the world’s biggest retailer, which in turn attracts other tenants. Occupancy has consistently sat above 98% because of this.
Next is the trust’s potential to redevelop some of its existing property. Management figures there’s potential to add some 20 million square feet to the existing footprint of 34 million square feet. It also is expanding away from retail into self-storage, mixed-use (both office and residential mixed with retail space) and into senior’s living.
The trust’s Chairman is Mitchell Goldhar, who might be the best real estate developer alive in Canada today. Goldhar owns a bunch of shares (approximately 20% worth) when the company acquired Smartcentres from him in 2015. I like that he’s aboard.
Finally, shares pay a nice 5.7% yield with an annual distribution increase every year since 2013.
Since this is getting too long I’ll just mention a few more stocks I’m watching.
- Altagas (TSX:ALA) — The cheapest utility in Canada and it’s not even close, either. Balance sheet is a bit of a tire fire though.
- RioCan (TSX:REI.UN) — Like Smart I like the redevelopment pipeline. Has great retail assets with a long-term plan to diversify into other types of real estate.
- Dollarama (TSX:DOL) — Not super happy about being bullish on a retail stock but it’s cheap, still has good growth potential, and small store sizes make it more likely it can maintain 40% gross margin targets.
- Fedex (NYSE:FDX) — Down 30% in the last month and 35% in the last year. Trades at 9x trailing earnings. That’s simply too cheap.
Any stocks you’re watching? Comment away, yo.