Weekly Linkfest #35

Weekly Linkfest #35

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.

Weekly Linkfest #34

Weekly Linkfest #34

Let’s talk about probably the biggest waste of money there is, New Years’ Eve parties.

Younger readers might think they have no choice but to go out on New Years’ Eve, going to some overpriced club and drinking too much. I know I went out pretty much every year in my 20s, but your 30s are a whole other story. That’s the decade it becomes acceptable to be lame.

It gets even better, too. By the time you hit your 40s it’s an expectation you’ll be lame. You can watch the New York feed of Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve and be in bed by 10:30.

This is all part of a larger trend when you get older. The party holidays (New Year’s, Canada Day, Halloween) become less and less important, while the family gathering days (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter) become paramount. And then you invite young adults over and they ruin it by turning a family holiday into a party one. Nice going, maroon.

But then they’re family and you forgive them. Aww. Aren’t you sweet?

My message on this has been pretty consistent for years now. Partying is an incredibly dumb hobby. Most people grow out of it by their mid-20s, but there are still a few stragglers who insist on holding onto the dream into their late-20s or even into their 30s. You’ll save thousands of dollars annually by stopping the binge drinking, and be healthier to boot.

Links I liked

1. Let’s start off with this profile of Jimmy Pattison, the man known as Canada’s Warren Buffett. It follows him around rural Saskatchewan as he checks in on the newest part of his empire — farm machinery dealerships.

Here are a couple pieces I’ve wrote about Jimmy over the years, who continues to be one of my favorite investors.

2. Over on Seeking Alpha, Dale Roberts takes a closer look at BlackRock, the ETF giant that is trading at a surprisingly cheap valuation. A great company trading at a bargain price? Yes, please. Read this one quickly; it’s going to disappear behind the paywall in a couple of days.

3. Asset-Based Life is back this week, profiling the world’s youngest retiree. He’s just 12-years-old.

This post is one of Paul’s best, something I not saying lightly. I think he’s consistently one of the finest personal finance writers out there. This article surpasses even his usual high standard. He captures everything that’s wrong with the FIRE movement in one tidy little package. Seriously, go read it. Now.

4. Gen Y Money hates paying full price for haircuts, so she lists a number of alternatives. If I lived in a large center I’d probably exclusively live on Groupon haircuts. It’s not hard to find a $10 haircut deal if you’re a dude, and since you never plan to go back you can stiff the poor bastard on the tip. Everyone wins!

5. Every month, Moneygeek publishes the results of his TFSA, which saw a 17% decrease in November. He went all-in on oil stocks after the 2015 rout, and it hasn’t worked out. This begs an interesting question — just how long should you pursue an investment strategy that clearly isn’t working? I left some thoughts in the comment section.

6. Here’s a link to the 800+ page operating guide for a Subway franchise. It’s filled with great tidbits you can apply to any business.

This is my favorite part:

Mmmmmmmm. Anyone else with a serious hankering for Subway yet? I haven’t had the munchies this bad since October 17th.

7. Want to borrow some cash but keep striking out because you have no collateral? Okay, that’s not a very big problem here; you’ll just have to pay about 20-45% interest. But it is over in China, a nation that doesn’t really have an established consumer credit system. Enterprising lenders have an interesting solution — give them your nudes as collateral.

Ladies only, obviously.

8. My Money Wizard has some advice for those of you bitching about a high cost of living. Rather than struggling in a place like Toronto, Vancouver, New York City, or Hong Kong, move instead to a low cost of living city. Use that to get ahead and THEN move to the high cost of living city.

9. Nomad Capitalist outlines his experience buying real estate in Georgia (the country, not the state). It reminded me of a very important lesson about how you need to know a real estate market before investing in it. Andrew accomplishes this by hiring a great agent and lawyer to help him, but it’s not always that easy. How do you know an agent is good or a lawyer is competent, especially if you don’t know a market?

10. I liked this post by Early Retirement Dude, who points out that maybe kids should pay for at least some of their own way in college.

I waver back and forth on this issue. On the one hand, figuring how to pay for things yourself is a good thing. It teaches all sorts of skills. But at the same time the older generation is often guilty of hoarding more money than they could ever need while their offspring struggle to establish themselves. By the time the inheritance comes the kids are already well on their way to becoming wealthy too. It helps nobody.

So I dunno. I see it from both sides.

11. Here’s how a guy named Joel — writing over at Collecting Wisdom — bought 4 four-plexes in a year. It might not be totally applicable to the Canadian readers, but it’s still a knowledgeable post nonetheless.

12. And finally, let’s wrap this up with a couple of articles I did for Motley Fool. Here are some thoughts I have about Altagas, which I think is an incredibly cheap stock. And here’s a short list of three stocks that might cut their dividends next year.

That’s about it. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Weekly Linkfest #33

Weekly Linkfest #33

Finally, an excuse to put up a Patrick Roy picture. My favorite memory of him was definitely when he sent his kid out to fight some other kid during a junior hockey game. So crazy. I love it.

Junior hockey used to be absolutely bananas. That was only 10 years ago! The younger Roy was charged in the incident, but got away with a slap on the wrist. He had quit hockey at that point to pursue a singing career in the United States, which probably had something to do with it.

I just listened to one of his songs on Youtube. It’s not terrible.

This was a fun little rabbit hole. Kind of like when I used to click random on Wikipedia until something interesting came up.

I recently acquired a new television for my basement, a second-hand unit that only has a mere 720p resolution. Since the majority of my TV watching will be video from the internet and the occasional PS3/SNES/NES Classic video games, this isn’t a big deal.

Our current upstairs TV is a 32 inch beast from about 10 years ago. It had two appeals when I first got it — the unit had a built-in DVD player (which is super convenient for the three times a year we pop in a disc) and it was free. It has served us well over the years.

I just instructed the wife to hug the TV for being so good to us. For some reason she’s opposed to this.

The new TV is 42 inches, and it seems absolutely MASSIVE in comparison. I’m sure there’s a lesson in expectations in there or something but for now I’m just enjoying watching Jonathan Roy music videos while talking to you guys.

Time for Links

The only good thing about waiting so long between these link roundup posts is it’s a lot easier to come up with a bunch of good stuff. I’ll even sneak in a little bit of my own writing from other sites too.

1. Let’s start things off with my new favorite genre of article, those that shit on your local 35-year old’s retirement dreams. I continue to say that striving to save as much as you can is admirable goal, and there’s nothing wrong with making life changes to maximize your free time if that floats your boat. I’ve done exactly that. I just hate that we call it “retired” and there are hundreds of “retired” bloggers who make millions collectively selling that dream.

2. If you’re on Twitter and I notice I’ve liked something, chances are you’ll see it here. Either that or someone’s posting excerpts of some interesting-sounding book. On that note, here’s probably the most scathing book review I’ve ever read, absolutely eviscerating Ray Dalio’s Principles. I’m just happy I wasn’t the only one who hated it.

Seriously, what a boring book. Don’t waste your time.

3. Let’s pivot to something completely different. Here’s Value Stock Geek admitting his struggles with alcoholism. This is a brave post that takes more intestinal fortitude than I have to write. One of the reasons why I don’t touch the sauce is because I know something like that could very well happen to me.

4. One of the reasons why I didn’t venture to Toronto for the recently concluded Canadian Personal Finance Conference was because the theme of “pushing the boundaries of personal finance” didn’t really do it for me. I still have no idea what the hell that’s supposed to mean, and listening to a former Hudson’s Bay exec talk about personal finance doesn’t seem like something worth my time. Anyhoo, here’s Million Dollar Journey opining on the same topic, and he concludes pretty much what I do — that there aren’t really many personal finance topics that haven’t already been fully analyzed.

5. My Money Wizard might be the best personal finance blog you’re currently not reading. Or maybe you are. He profiles Orville Rogers, a retired pilot who used smart investing and a long lifespan to amass a crapload of money. It really can be that simple guys.

6. The Stronach family is currently suing the crap out of each other about what else — money. Currently, dad Frank and brother Andrew are upset with Brenda, the former politician/lover of Peter McKay. We’re talking some pretty serious money here; the dad’s lawsuit is for $250 million. Now I’m kinda bullish on Magna and I’m so happy none of the family is still actively involved in the company.

This is a good set of links. One of my better collections lately.

7. Let’s sully things up with a little bit of my own writing. I told millennials how they can generate a $10 million TFSA by investing well over a long period of time. It really isn’t that hard. I also wrote about why I recently added Canadian Utilities to the ol’ portfolio.

8. I wrote a portfolio update over at Canadian Dividend Investing, which is where you want to go to see what I’m investing in these days. I might merge CDI with FU at some point but I also realize the people who read my investing stuff might not want to read my PF stuff. And vise versa. I dunno. Voice your opinion in the comments if you have strong feelings about what I should do.

9. Cold and Rich offers a alternate solution for your emergency fund — putting the cash to work in preferred shares, which yield 5%+. If I was liquidating my portfolio and needed cash I’d turn to the bonds/preferred shares first. Hell, bonds only exist in my portfolio to eventually be invested in stocks. I just don’t need the cash right now.

10. Dale Roberts from Cut The Crap Investing offers a piece of investing advice I wish I followed 15 years ago — buy the bank stocks, not mutual funds. I owned both TD and BMO at much lower prices than today, picking them both up as a much younger man. I remember TD shares being worth $27 each when I bought them. They’ve split since then and are now worth $72. Sigh.

11. Mortgage rate comparison site RateHub recently announced it was acquiring MoneySense, a decades-old institution in Canadian personal finance. It’ll be interesting to see the direction they take their new acquisition; if RateHub itself is any indication, look for a lot of posts on why you need a new credit card.

12. Boomer and Echo listed their 2019 goals, including such major milestones as continue contributing to a TFSA and spend some money on a vacation. It highlights something we should all know but us bloggers don’t focus on because it’s shit for pageviews — good financial goals should be boring. The outlandish stuff just doesn’t get done.

13. And finally, here’s Rob from Passive Canadian Income, who’s contemplating buying a rental property. An interesting look at the mindset of a first-time real estate investor. These days my real estate investing is limited to REITs, but it’s fun to read about someone else’s experience.

14. One more before I go. Here’s David Chilton talking about how he invests. It turns out it’s not just gold-plated scissors all the time. Get it? Because he’s the Wealthy Barber? WHATEVER I’D LIKE TO SEE YOU COME UP WITH SOMETHING BETTER.

How about David Chilton encourages investors to cut their investing fees by putting their money to work in low-cost alternatives?

Damn you.

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

Weekly Linkfest #32

Weekly Linkfest #32

My favorite story of the week was definitely Jacob Wohl and his bombshell accusations against Robert Mueller. On Tuesday, Wohl used his Twitter account to announce he had sworn testimony from a woman who had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by Mueller. Almost immediately holes began to form in Wohl’s story, including the fact the investigative company who contacted him about the alleged assault was, in fact, owned by Wohl and the contact number was his mother’s cell phone.

Oh, it gets better.

Wohl promised he would reveal all during a big news conference planned for a Holiday Inn in Arlington, Virginia. Because hey, what major news story hasn’t been formally announced at a Holiday Inn conference room? True story: that’s where NASA first announced we landed on the moon. George W Bush confirmed 9/11 at a Holiday Inn. Look it up if you want, but there’s no reason to. I am 100% certain I’m right.

The news conference was scheduled to start at 11. Wohl didn’t take the stage until nearly 12. He spun a tale about a woman named Carolyn Cass who was repeatedly and violently sexually assaulted by Robert Mueller. Or maybe her name is Caroline Cass. Or Carolyne Cass. It turns out all of those names were used at some point.

His lawyer then took over, addressing the crowd of assembled reporters — with his fly undone. The. Whole. Time. He had high praise for Jacob Wohl though, at one point calling him a “child prodigy who has eclipsed Mozart.”

You have to read the whole story. It’s absolutely hilarious.

You might remember Jacob from 2015, when he made headlines for being a 17-year old hedge fund manager. This worked out rather poorly for him, including an SEC investigation and a lifetime ban from the securities industry. He then shifted his attention to politics, becoming a vocal Trump supporter.

According to this Twitter user, Wohl also strode into a merchant bank after being barred from the securities industry and asked for $25 million to start a new fund. When they refused, he went and tried the same tactic on the competition.

Jacob Wohl is my new favorite person. Such a crook. I love it.

Links I liked

1. Let’s start things off with Cold and Rich, a value investing blog that focuses on Canadian companies. He recently profiled Pizza Pizza, which is a big holding of mine too. With shares at a 52-week low of $8.50 each as I write this, I agree they’re probably a pretty good buy right now.

2. Next up is Money Scrap, who points out financial independence will not make all of your problems go away. This is a valuable lesson many early retirees realize after they’ve been away from the workforce for a few years. Sure, all of your career problems go away, but they’re replaced with different things.

3. Susan Brummer, who profiles a stock each weekday, recently took a closer look at a new holding of mine, Molson Coors. She concludes it’s probably a pretty decent value here, although shares have shot up from below $80 each to more than $90 this week.

4. Spruce Point Capital, a prominent hedge fund that primarily shorts stocks, recently issued a pretty damning report on Dollarama, a former market darling that’s down about 30% from its peak. Here’s what I wrote about the company a few weeks ago over on the ol’ dividend investing blog.

I should probably update that thing, huh? I even have new positions to report.

5. It looks like this is going to be a mostly investing version of the ol’ link dump. New (to me, at least) blog Old-School Canadian Value Stocks is no fan of Sleep Country Canada stock, even going as far as considering shorting the thing. He’s got me convinced; I’ve long known the worst kind of hell is shopping for furniture while some commissioned sales guy is licking his chops in anticipation.

6. Did you know heavy oil from Alberta currently sells for less than $20 per barrel, while the benchmark price for crude in North America is well over $60 per barrel? Divestor explains why the spread exists and why the situation is very bad news for investing in the sector.

7. Mark Leonard, the CEO of Constellation Software, is equal parts elusive and fascinating. There’s almost no information known publicly about the guy despite him being a billionaire and the leader of a TSX 60 company. His only communication to shareholders is an annual letter. The Globe and Mail tried to profile him a few years ago, but didn’t have much luck.

8. Tired of paying too much income tax? Yeah, we all are. Dale Roberts has you covered over at Boomer and Echo. It’s always fun when two of my favorite writers get together. I like to pretend we’re all friends.

Like you have friends. 

(A single tear slowly rolls down my cheek) Whatever, Italics Man. Your words don’t bug me.

9. Mr. Tako Escapes has something like $600,000 in cash. No, that’s not a typo. He really is sitting on a half mil, which isn’t doing much. He explains why he takes such a conservative position and why it works for him.

I’ve decided I like FIRE blogs that don’t talk so much about how great FIRE is. Mr. Tako is great at this.

10. Artis REIT cut its dividend 50% on Thursday, which will knock a couple hundred bucks off the ol’ Nelson passive income report. But I do like its strategy to buy back undervalued shares. Jordan from Money Maaster has the deets.

11. Apparently there are rumblings the TFSA limit could go up to $6,000 in 2019. That’s more exciting than that time I found a quarter in my couch cushions. FREE MONEY BABY.

12. And finally, time for something completely different. Here’s the worst called ball of the 2018 MLB season. You’ll like this one, I promise. Unless you hate baseball, that is.

Have a good weekend, everyone. See you on Monday.

Weekly Linkfest #31

Weekly Linkfest #31

Has anyone else noticed how I call these “weekly linkfests” and they’re really more monthly? DON’T ANSWER THAT.

Let’s talk a little about the greatest fast food sandwich of all-time, the McRib. Oh baby I miss the McRib. I could easily eat five a sitting if shame didn’t stop me.

Oh baby. Just get those trash pickles off that and I am in gluttony heaven. I don’t know what it is about the sauce but it’s the greatest thing ever. I want to guzzle bottles of it. I love that sauce so much I would lick it off your mother’s ass.

Naturally, I was over the moon when I first heard McDonald’s was bringing back the McRib for a limited time. But there was no information about the sandwich’s availability in Canada. With baited breath I reached out to the McDonald’s Canada Twitter robot and asked.

How. Dare. They. I have never been more upset. You’re not passing along anything either, social media person. You couldn’t care less about my needs.

So now I’m faced with a dilemma. The nearest American McDonald’s is in Great Falls, which is a full six hours away from my house. I don’t want to drive the better part of a day just for someone to make me a damn sandwich. That’s why I got married! HEYO!

And that joke is why I got divorced! HEYO! Hey, who gave my wife my WordPress password?

I like taking the odd road trip to America. There are plenty of other reasons to go too, like going to Great Falls’ Kmart. That’s where hope goes to die. God, what a depressing store. I love it. I also like going to witness the miracle of alcohol in grocery stores. This works? Are you people sure? We could never have such a thing in Canada.

Great Falls also has a lot of parks and whatnot. It’s a pretty nice place overall. It reminds me a lot of Canada, actually.

Still, I probably won’t go. So American readers please eat a McRib for me. BUT NOT TWO. That would be excessive.

Links I liked

1. I often forget some of the people I follow on Twitter have websites. So some of these links will be new to you readers, but not so much to me. Let’s start off with Value Stock Geek, who has a nice review of an interesting book about America’s new oil boom called Saudi America. Note that the author, Bethany McLean, also wrote The Smartest Guys in the Room about the Enron fiasco.

2. Ian Bezek is investing $1,000 a month into a basket of high-quality U.S. stocks with the hopes of turning it into $1 million by 2041. It’s a great resource for investors just starting out or for guys like me who have a little U.S. Dollar cash to put to work. Plus, Ian doesn’t just talk about huge stocks like Facebook or Apple.

3. Speaking of sources of investing ideas, Mr. Tako Escapes is back with his monthly investing ideas post. He includes a Canadian stock or two most of the time in there, which he does specifically to make me happy. He hasn’t confirmed this, but I’m 99.98% convinced it’s true.

I like the monthly ideas post so much I think I’m going to steal it.

4. Canadian Value Stocks has some thoughts about the asset management business, and specifically about the half dozen or so stocks in the sector he holds. While I’m not nearly as bullish about the sector as he is, Tyler’s thoughts are always worth a few minutes of your time.

5. As inspired by my Suze Orman trolls early retirees post (at least I’m assuming), Mark from My Own Advisor points out the ridiculousness of saying you need at least $5 million to retire. It turns out you only need $4.5 mil to retire early. What a relief!

Or something like that. Click the damn link. Help these people out.

6. An interesting question over at The Rational Walk. Would you rather have success early and coast through your latter years or have to wait until you’re 40 (or older) to have any major accomplishments? Personally, I’d be quite content to ride early success into the sunset, but I can see how most people would want to keep pushing.

7. Another week month, another Asset-Based Life mention. This week’s post is a reminder that minimizing mistakes in life can be much better than maximizing wins. It’s a great timeless lesson that comes with a free book recommendation, which is always the key to my heart. Wait, my rumbling stomach is telling me food is the actual key to my heart.

(Googles ‘can a stomach eat itself’)

8. Hot damn are there a lot of good personal finance/investing blogs out there. I barely even know where to begin anymore. It’s an embarrassment of riches. My Money Wizard is another fantastic website. This week he delves into a topic that always inspires a good debate — is being rich all it’s cracked up to be?

9. Dale Roberts over at Cut the Crap Investing shares some predictions made by Alexander Graham Bell back in 1918 about how life would be like in 2018. He actually nailed a lot of it. It turns out the guy who invented the phone was pretty smart. The post then morphs into one of the more interesting link roundups you’ll read. It’s a lot better than this filth, anyway.

10. And finally, the Globe and Mail is finally tackling an issue that matters. Here’s the best way to attack an all-you-can-eat buffet. Basically, it boils down to avoiding the carbs. But they’re delicious!

Have a good week, everyone. See ya on Monday.