Weekly Linkfest #41

Weekly Linkfest #41

I’m an avid traveler these days, because apparently it’s much more rewarding than loading up your house with stuff. Oh, how we hate stuff. I WOULD KICK ITS ASS IF IT HAD AN ASS.

But there are a couple of really important things to consider before embracing this attitude. First of all, there are all sorts of things you can buy that really make your life better. We bought a new couch which gets sat on almost every night. It’s a comfortable spot to watch TV or just chill. It’s big enough that everyone can sit on it when guests come over. And since we don’t have kids or anything this couch should be functional for at least 20 years, probably longer.

Is this a waste of money versus spending that cash on a few days away in Las Vegas? Not every vacation is going to blow your socks off.

My new phone is another perfect example. I easily go on it two hours a day. For just over $300 I have access to all the world’s knowledge in a device that has such a good battery I can go two days without charging it. This is a fantastic bargain.

Look, I’m not saying you shouldn’t spend on experiences. I’ll remember the Great Wall of China for the rest of my life. New York City was similarly amazing. Even smaller trips like a weekend away with my wife are remembered fondly. But that doesn’t mean every vacation dollar is spent wisely and every dollar spent buying stuff is squandered.

At the end of the day it comes down to this. It doesn’t matter what you’re spending your cash on. Consuming is still consuming, Just spend less than you earn and you’ll come out ahead.

Links I liked

1. I’m going to start off this week with My Own Advisor, mostly because that’s the most easily accessible open tab out of the 27 Google Chrome tabs I have open. I wish I was kidding. Anyhoo, here’s why Mark doesn’t consistently track his net worth.

2. Up next is Money Maaster, whose stock picks are fortunately better than his spelling. He recently bought a stock I own already, so naturally I approve of this move.

3. I like reading about people’s interesting side hustles. Here’s a guest post on Million Dollar Journey from someone who hosts homestay students and gets paid pretty well to do so. I’m a big fan of stuff like this, since most of us have unused space that’s just going to waste. Myself included.

4. Canadian Value Investors took a closer look at how Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos have changed over time by scouring old interviews. It’s no surprise Buffett stayed consistent, but Bezos was a little more interesting.

5. Let’s get my own writing out of the way. I threw the value investors a bone by talking about an insanely cheap gold stock (don’t worry, I didn’t buy any. Still not a fan of the mining industry) and I profiled a growth stock trading at approximately 8 times forward earnings expectations.

6. The Rational Walk has some thoughts on financial independence, including why a 3% withdrawal rate is best and why everyone should strive to have fuck you money. If you agree with my whole financial independence deal, you’ll enjoy this post.

7. A sweet post from Gen Y Money about her husband’s inner scorecard for Valentine’s Day. 2014 Nelson would have made a sex joke right there, but 2019 Nelson is mature. What a guy.

8. SP Brunner takes a look at a stock I think is a massive value trap, IGM Financial, and comes to pretty much the same conclusion. It’s cheap, but not enticingly so. I like their focus to more of a financial planning approach, but at the end of the day most of IGM’s core clients don’t really need complex tax advice. Remember, Investors Group is filled with retail investors. High net worth folks long ago went somewhere else.

9. A hell of a story from Mr. Free by 33 about losing two sets of parents. No jokes here. You’ll be saddened by reading that. But kudos to Jason for doing the right thing and for moving on.

10. My Money Wizard has an insanely detailed guide on how he keeps his grocery spending to $35 per week per person. I should do one of these sometime. Our grocery bill might not be $35 per week cheap, but I guarantee it’s lower than average.

11. Here’s a closer look at a stock I agree with the author about, Molson Coors. Unfortunately we just bought more right before the stock tanked on a weak outlook. Oh well.

12. And finally, yet another post from last week’s debuter (totally a word), Investment Pancake over at Seeking Alpha. He points out that a simple portfolio filled with dividend growers combined with a decent savings rate will make you rich. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. And, plus, the dude is funny. I LOLed a couple of times, and I laugh less than those Buckingham Palace guard guys.

And that’s about it. Have a good week, everyone.

Weekly Linkfest #40

Weekly Linkfest #40

LORDY LORDY THE LINKFEST IS 40. I SWEAR IT DOESN’T LOOK A DAY OVER 37.

After getting back from South Korea back in 2015, the wife and I went and got ourselves an apartment (where we lived for a little over a year before buying a house, value investing style). We needed some supplies when moving in, including laundry soap. So we went to Wal-Mart where they had this bad boy on sale for $9.99.

Just marvel at the size of that thing. It could fight off a home invasion on its own, no problem.

That bad boy says 140 uses, but that’s if you fill the cap to capacity each time you do a load of laundry. We didn’t, so we probably got 300-400 loads of laundry. For $10. What a fantastic deal.

A certain personal finance blogger I used to make fun of once made his own laundry detergent. He claimed to cut his laundry costs from $0.30 to $0.03 per load by using his batch of homemade goo. Meanwhile, I just did laundry for three years for just $10 at approximately $0.03 per load by just buying a cheaper brand and not filling the detergent cap/cup up all the way.

We’ve got maybe enough detergent for another month or two left, so I’m hoping to score another container on sale between now and then. Even if I have to pay regular price of around $13 I’m still in pretty cheap laundry territory.

My wife has found a way to make laundry even cheaper — she dries her clothes on a drying rack. I just can’t bring myself to do that, even if it can save me money.

The main takeaway from this, at least from an investing perspective, is that Tide is doomed. There’s no way I’m paying Tide prices for laundry detergent. The Arm & Hammer stuff is about half the price. More people are going to realize this and Tide is going to lose market share.

There’s an argument to buying name brand cookies or chips or even toilet paper. You’re paying for quality and for the prestige of that name. When somebody comes over for the game you serve Doritos, not Great Value brand taco flavored corn triangles. I don’t think that same argument applies to Tide.

Links I liked

1. Let’s start things off with some of my articles at Motley Fool to get them out of the way. Here’s a stock I own that hasn’t missed a dividend since 1833 and an article about SNC-Lavalin, which I think is probably a pretty good value right now. I concluded on Twitter the other day SNC shares were probably worth $50-$55 (they’re $37 today), but I’m not sure if I can pull the trigger. The taint of scandal seems to follow the company wherever it goes.

2. ANOTHER Seeking Alpha calling Brookfield Property Partners their top pick of 2019? Okay, sure. Join the party. These seem to be working — after earnings on Thursday the stock is up nearly 20% for the year and it announced a 5% dividend increase. The stock could do nothing for the rest of the year and I’d be happy with results.

3. Canadian Value Investors has an interesting post about Truet-Hurst, a special situations scenario with a California winemaker likely to go private in the next few months. There’s a reason I loved these kinds of situations as a deep value investor — there’s usually money to be made.

4. Gen Y Money took a closer took at the standard 12-month maternity leave versus the new 18-month option. Naturally these things are about more than just money but it seems pretty clear to me what the best financial choice is.

Fun fact: one of the male employees at my grandparents’ old folks home took six months off when his wife had a child and the old people criticized the hell out of him for it. By far the old ladies were the worst. Don’t let their sweet offers to bake you cookies sway you from the truth — old ladies are the meanest people on the planet. Hitler probably feared his grandmother.

5. Next up is Andrew Hallam, via Asset Builder, with a sad story about the fall of Bitcoin and the many thousands of people it ultimately impacted. One of my co-workers at the grocery store and I used to crack jokes about the price of Bitcoin all the time. “It’s up $500 today! Those people are nuts!” Good times.

6. After Potash merged with Agrium the ticker symbol POT became available. Approximately 4,000 marijuana companies joined the lottery to get the ticker symbol. The winner, a tiny marijuana company with a market cap of under $30 million before it won, saw shares surge 65% after. That whole sector continues to amaze me, and not in a good way either.

7. Think you’re going to beat the market by waiting patiently with your pile of cash and then buying the dips? I used to. Now I know better. Here’s Of Dollars and Data throwing cold water on all your market timing dreams.

Remember, you don’t need to sit on a pile of cash to cherry pick the best opportunities. There are thousands of stocks out there. Surely you can find one or two that’s a decent value today.

8. Want a truly sustainable 10% yield? Dividend Earner has you covered. I took a closer look at the stock he mentioned a few weeks ago and figured I’d do more research on a pullback. The pullback happened but I was not paying attention. Now it’s over. All the sads.

9. Pickings are a little slim this week, so allow me to add another link to something I wrote. This is about a small-cap REIT long-time readers might remember I was pretty bullish on a few years ago. I still like it a ton today.

10. And finally, here’s Dale Roberts over at Seeking Alpha on why stocks like Texas Instruments will beat the Verizons of the world in retirement income. If you have a long-term approach, that is.

Stay tuned for next week when we look at useless ETFs, why so many celebrities buy real estate, and much more.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Weekly Linkfest #39

Weekly Linkfest #39

It’s Super Bowl weekend, baby!

Look, I’m just going to come out and say it. If you don’t think Tom Brady is the absolute best of ALL TIME, just go ahead and click that back button and never show your face around here again.

How. Dare. You.

Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and the rest of the Rams will inevitably come up short and be nothing but a minor footnote buried in the history books. Do you remember how last year’s Super Bowl ended? Do you think Tom Brady is going to disappoint two years in a row? That man is not capable of long-term sucking.

The only question is whether Tom is going to continue on next year. I’d be more inclined to hang up my cleats after winning the big game at his age, but do you think that’s enough for the greatest player in NFL history? Absolutely not. Tom Brady isn’t just satisfied being the best of all time. He wants to dominate so soundly nobody else will even enter the conversation. And I for one am appreciating the hell out of it.

We’re all going to look back at this a decade from now and wish we still had Brady to watch. I know I sure will.

One of my buddies bet me dinner the Rams would lose. This will be the easiest victory in the history of time. Why does he hate money so much?

Links I liked

1. Let’s start things off with a post from Seeking Alpha, specifically from an anonymous author who calls himself Trapping Value. Mr. Value consistently has good stuff from a Canadian value investing perspective. Here’s one of his latest on Altagas’s preferred shares, which should be interesting to those of you who like value stocks and dividends. Hey wait. That’s all of you!

2. I generally think Corner of Berkshire and Fairfax, which was THE place for value investors to congregate, has gone sharply downhill in the last year. It’s not their fault; everyone has just migrated onto Twitter. But every now and again there’s a pretty interesting thread. This one is by an employee looking to get financing to buy his company from his boss. It’s full of great stuff (except when the Farnam Street guy shows up).

3. With Elizabeth Warren talking about a wealth tax and ol’ whatshername telling rich folks they should pay 70% taxes — and with a straight face, too! — this piece by Bloomberg takes a stroll down memory lane to back to the 1940s and 1950s to see how high earners got out of paying taxes. Surprisingly, these rich folks used various tax shelters to avoid paying their “fair share.” I know! I’m shocked too!

4. I’m a little behind on the Canadian Value Stocks feed, despite Tyler putting out a mere post a week. Last week he gave y’all the rundown on Urbana Corp, a stock I first looked at back in 2014(!). It’s worth your time.

Here’s a fun fact. I first researched Urbana back in 2014 when it traded at about 62% of net asset value. It currently trades at… about 62% of net asset value. But some good stuff has happened in between, which means investors would have gotten an 8% annual return. It just goes to show you don’t always need stocks like that one to trade closer to NAV for the investment to work out.

5. Divestor thinks some utility companies aren’t very safe, and encourages y’all to take a critical look at the power companies in your portfolio. It isn’t very often I disagree with him, but I think I am here. Look for me to write more about it next week.

6. Another Seeking Alpha article? Sure, why not. This one, by someone who dubs himself Investor Pancake (mmm… pancakes), has a nice tongue in cheek post on the first world problem of a dividend investor having too much income. Oh, the humanity!

(Note: that article will piss you off if you read it seriously. It’s excellent satire)

7. Let’s sully up this good time by including a couple of my own pieces of writing. Here’s me talking about a couple ways Canadians can easily and cheaply convert their cash into U.S. Dollars for their next getaway. And here’s a REIT that hasn’t missed a dividend since 1993.

8. Value Stock Geek has an interesting look at the David Swensen asset model, which includes more than just putting all your cash into the S&P 500. I agree wholeheartedly with putting more thought into asset allocation than being 100% in stocks.

9. Dividend Growth Investor took a closer look at Pepsico, which is currently the only big U.S.-based food company I own. Huge fan of Pepsi’s potato chip business. That bad boy prints money and is actually growing. And for whatever reason, people seem to ignore the fact chips are bad for them.

10. Mr. Free by 33 has some thoughts on portfolio construction and diworsification. Just how many stocks are too many, anyway? I’m up to about 30 in my own portfolio, but I’m not even close to his 113 different names.

11. Boomer and Echo takes a closer look at how robo advisors help folks weather stock market downturns using technology. It’s an interesting concept, and it certainly helps to have even a digital reminder of the benefits of sticking to a plan, but I still think the robos are missing the boat here. I don’t care how good technology gets, a human is still going to be better at getting us to stick to the plan than software.

I think that’s all I’ve got this week. Tune in next week for my February stock watch list, looking at my utility risk holdings, and more.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Weekly Linkfest #37

Weekly Linkfest #37

Let’s talk a little about this weekly feature on the Link Dump. This might be a little inside baseball, but whatever. Like I care what y’all think.

This bad boy is, by far, the toughest post I do every week. It’s not even close either.

There’s an easy way to do one of these and a hard way. Yes, it’s exactly like cleaning your room when you’re eight. The easy way, which the majority of bloggers do, is to find about a dozen different sources and link to them every week. This primarily happens because a) these posts are hard to do if you’re looking for new content each week and b) it’s part of a quid-pro-pro system that essentially says “I’ll link to you if you return the favor.”

There’s also c) which is when a small or medium-sized blog exclusively links out to bigger ones, trying to get their attention. C is extra sad.

(Now that you know this, go re-read your favorite blogger’s link dump with a brand new cynical perspective. Fun!)

This brings us to another interesting truth about the finance blogging sector — many authors aren’t really interested in reading what their peers have to say. I’ve been amazed at how many are willing to admit they no longer check out any financial blogs. This is a real shame, since there’s all sorts of wisdom out there. Of course there’s also a whole lot of crap, too. Please don’t guess which group Financial Uproar belongs to.

These link posts are a lot of work to do right, but it’s not really that big of a deal for me. I’m a voracious reader who’s always looking for interesting things to consume. If an article interested me, the least I can do is give it a shout-out. And if I like it then I bet you will too. You guys have consistently given me compliments for link dump posts and the traffic numbers prove they’re popular.

Anyhoo, that’s probably enough. Onto the good stuff.

Links I liked

1. Let’s start things out with a good reminder from a finance blog called Smile and Conquer (it’s a bit of an odd name but let’s go with it), about how your mortgage is fantastic debt. Where else are you going to borrow money that cheap without taking it from your grandmother’s nightstand?

2. It’s not often I link to a post that ultimately disappointed me, but I’m going to do it anyway. Here’s an opinion piece over at Bloomberg highlighting a study that confirmed something we’ve likely all suspected — collectively investors are lousy at selling stocks. It turns out most fund managers would have done better choosing stocks to sell at random rather than doing painstaking research.

So what disappointed me? It just highlighted the problem. There’s no solution. I’d love to hear from good sellers who have this figured out.

3. Dividend Growth Investor wrote about the dividend crossover point, the kind of financial independence I can get behind. That’s where your expenses are covered by dividends and the growth in these payouts should be enough to protect you against inflation. We’re not quite there yet in terms of just dividends, but we’re getting there.

4. This isn’t about finance, but y’all gotta let me put in one non-business related link each week. Right? WHATEVER DAD YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME ANYMORE. I SWEAR TO GOD I’LL MOVE OUT OF THIS BASEMENT.

I’m sorry you had to witness that. Anyway the link is looking at how much a grown-ass man would dominate Little League baseball. This is definitely worth your time if you’re into baseball or beating children so badly they cry.

5. WeWork, the giant co-working and office space company that is apparently worth $47 billion (LOL sure it is), got into some hot water recently when it was disclosed its CEO owned stakes in buildings WeWork then leased back. Yeah, that’s not cool.

This is a constant problem in the micro-cap stock world, by the way. You get some CEO who controls the stock and he just does whatever he wants. I used to buy these companies if they were cheap enough but now I just stay away. There’s too much quality out there for me to want to wade into this crap.

6. Personal finance burnout is very much a thing. Here’s how Martin over at Studenomics avoids it while throwing in a few references about how jacked he is. I could still beat him up though.

7. Up next is Mr. Tako Escapes with one of the great questions of the investing world. Just exactly who should you trust, anyway? He’s even figured out the right answer, which unfortunately is cynical as all hell.

Some of you people trust me, for reasons I’ll never fully understand. But thanks.

8. Gen Y Money was kind enough to feature me in this post highlighting six Canadian finance bloggers to follow in 2019. Go for the list, stay for the blurb on Cross Country Canada, one of the best computer games of the 1980s.

9. Time for some of my own writing. Here’s why I just bought Altagas shares, which I think is one of the more undervalued stocks on the TSX. I also wrote about an interesting REIT that yields almost 8% that has all sorts of growth potential ahead of it.

10. Alpha Vulture posted a nice list of suggested books on investing. Check out the additional choices in the comments.

That’s about it for this week, kids. Stay tuned for next week’s posts including talk about stock splits and when I finally tackle the topic of bitcoin. What?!?!?

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Weekly Linkfest #36

Weekly Linkfest #36

When the hell did oil changes become so damned expensive?

I took my car in yesterday (thanks for the two reminders and two confirmations I made my appointment, btw) and it cost me nearly $90. This is for what, 15 minutes worth of work? They also checked the brakes and tires and whatnot, but my car only has 35,000km on it. None of this stuff is even remotely close to worn out.

I also asked them to top up the tires. They have fancy nitrogen in them for some reason so I figured I’d just let them do it. And those rat bastards wanted to charge me extra! It’s literally a minute of extra work. They have a machine that makes it much easier than when I have to guesstimate while kneeling on the cold hard ground.

At least I was able to drop it off and then pick it up an hour later after I had lunch. My old shop used to double book themselves all the time and keep my car all afternoon. When I called them out on it the response was “well that’s just the way it is.”

That was during Alberta’s boom time. Now that place is dead. Let that be a lesson to you, kids. NEVER SCREW WITH NELSON.

(Does throat slash motion)

Links I liked

1. Jeff Bezos’s divorce was a big headline grabber this week. It sounds as if Jeff was screwing around on Mackenzie, which means if it’s true he deserves some of our scorn. It also lead me to the best Jeff Bezos story ever about how he used to eat a whole can of Pilsbury biscuits for breakfast every morning.

2. Here’s an interesting piece by Mr. Free by 33 on fake entrepreneurs in his new home of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Specifically he laments the lack of real world success from these folks, saying they’re all a bunch of wannabes who aren’t willing to put in the time or effort to be successful.

He’s right about one thing: success is a grind. Overnight successes are years in the making. You just don’t notice the first few years.

3. Paul from Asset-Based Life published the results of his 2018 stock picking contest. Click through to see how I did. Spoiler alert: at least I beat the dog!

4. Speaking of stock picking contests, here’s what Money Maaster chose for his entries into 2019’s contest. He’s off to a pretty good start so maybe y’all might want to pay attention.

I’ll also publish my picks for the contest sometime next week. So you’ll want to stay tuned for that.

5. Here’s a hedge fund letter that I guarantee you’ll find more entertaining than the rest. It’s by Hillbilly Hamlet Capital Management, a totally real investment firm with billions — no trillions — under management.

6. Early Retirement Dude has a pretty entertaining story about that a recent trip to Florida that had him (and the missus) visiting a sleazy strip club (is there any other kind, really?). It’s also got all the details on how another neighborhood strip club rips off their customers, which is where the real entertainment starts. Hot damn are horny guys stupid.

7. Here’s a look at my top pick for 2019. I recently bought more of this stock to make it one of my biggest positions. It’s a fantastic company that owns great assets, all selling for a bargain price. To borrow a baseball analogy it’s a fastball right down the middle. All I need to do is take a swing.

8. I also wrote about how our collective smartphone addiction problem is very good for one particular Canadian stock.

9. Over on Seeking Alpha, Ian Bezek is a big fan of Jack Daniels’ parent company Brown-Forman, and not just because of the dividend growth history, either. Perhaps he even enjoys the product sometimes GASP DON’T TELL THE CHILDREN.

10. And finally, another article from Seeking Alpha. This one is by Sure Dividend, pointing out the reasons to be bullish on Altria today. Come for the 6% dividend, stay for the inevitable lung cancer.

Next week’s articles will include how to read (almost) anything for free, my picks for the 2019 version of the stock picking contest, and much more.

Have a great weekend, everyone.