Millennial Revolution Investment Workshop: Intro

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Wanderer

The Wanderer retired from his engineering job at a major Silicon Valley semiconductor company at the age of 33. He now travels the world, seeking out knowledge from other wealthy people, so that he can teach people how to become Financially Independent themselves.
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Not a day goes by where we don’t get an email asking exactly what to do to start investing for their future Financial Independence. We talk about the strategies we used and how we actually built up our nest egg, but what people kept asking for was a step-by-step guide on how to actually build a portfolio for themselves.

Well, we’ll do you one better: I am proud to announce the start of the Millennial Revolution Investment Workshop!

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This will be a year-long workshop that we will run right here on Millennial-Revolution.com, where we will walk through the exact steps (with screenshots) of how you, the reader, can build your own portfolio of low-cost Index ETFs just like we did. And we’re going to do it with REAL money, in the actual stock market LIVE for you to see.

Why? Because we can talk about Modern Portfolio Theory and Index Investing until we’re blue in the face, but it’s not going to help people who are just too new at this to risk doing it themselves. As we build up our portfolio, you’re going see our actual holdings fluctuate up, and crash back down at various times. And through it all, you will see how we deal with the screaming talking heads in the media yelling about how it’s different this time and the sky is falling. It’s never different this time and the sky is NOT falling.

Throughout this whole thing, we will be acting as if we’re in the same boat as many of you are: Still working and just starting to build your portfolio from scratch. As such, we will be starting all the way from the process of opening the right accounts, how to fund them, picking the securities and actually putting in the orders. Oh, and because of our large US audience, we will be running two portfolios in parallel: A Canadian one worth $10,000 and a US also worth $10,000 (USD).

And through it all, you are free to come along. You can match our exact moves with however little or as much money as you want, or maybe put your own twist on our investment strategies, or you can sit there with a bucket of popcorn to see how it goes. Totally up to you.

And your cost for participating: Nothing. I know that apparently what bloggers are supposed to do when they get big is to start hawking some $1000 e-course, but we’re not going to do that because:

  1. We hate that shit.
  2. We don’t need the money.
  3. We believe that knowledge about how to invest for your early retirement is a human right. Unlike those big banks and financial companies trying to screw you every day, we don’t think investment knowledge is something that only the rich or privileged should have access to. Everyone should have access to it, and it should be free.

So we will be conducting this workshop for FREE. We only ask that if you participate, please use the affiliate links we provided to open up your brokerage accounts, so we can cover the costs of running this blog and keep it free.

Standard Disclaimer: We are NOT licensed financial advisors. This Workshop is for demonstrative purposes only, and shouldn’t take the place of a formalized, holistic financial plan created by a licensed financial advisor. You participate at your own risk.

OK, so ready to get started? Let’s start by opening up a Brokerage account.

In the past, we have advocated using TD e-series mutual funds when your portfolio size is smaller because buying/selling ETFs typically incurs trading costs. Those days are gone, because now brokerage companies have started offering accounts where you can trade ETFs for FREE. Knowing this, it now makes little sense to go with mutual funds anymore. Sorry, TD Waterhouse. Them’s the breaks.

CANADA (Questrade)

In Canada, the brokerage account we’ll be using is Questrade. We’ve been toying with them for the past couple months and so far we like what we see. Questrade offers commission-free buying of any Canadian or US-listed ETF. Selling an ETF will incur the normal trading commission of $4.95 to $9.95 (depending on the number of shares sold), but when you’re still working and in the accumulation phase of your portfolio-building, you’re almost always buying and rarely selling (maybe once a year to rebalance if even that). So this is effectively free trading for the average long-term ETF investor, plus you get to take advantage of the much lower management fees inherent in Index ETFs (again, in the 0.1% range). We’ve been using them for a few months now and the fee structure seems legit. No monthly or hidden fees or anything.

Opening up an account is free. If you don’t already have one, use this link as it gives you a $50 rebate on commissions going forward. That might come in handy if we need to rebalance later on down the road.

Questrade offers two types of accounts:

  • Self-Directed
  • Managed.

Because we’re going to be directing our trades ourselves, we want to select “Self-Directed.

And for the Self-Directed Account Type, we are going to pick a normal non-registered account “Standard Individual.” (We will talk about RRSP/TFSA accounts in a future post). We won’t be messing with options at all, so pick “No” for the Options trading. And make sure if it’s not there, you add in the offer code of “feb23fb6” so you can get your $50 of free trades.

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After that, you’ll be asked for your name, address, SIN, etc. Go ahead and fill that out and complete your application.

Once you’re done your application, though, there’s still paperwork you have to mail into them. Questrade requires a “Statement of Acceptance,” which you have print out, sign, scan, and upload back to them. They also require a bank statement (I just download mine from Tangerine and uploaded it), as well as an “Attested ID,” which is SUPER annoying. Basically, you have to photocopy your passport and get a CPA, lawyer, doctor, etc. to sign the paper attesting that you are who you say you are, and then you have snail-mail it to their headquarters in Toronto. Alternatively, if you live in Toronto, you can just pop by their head office near Finch Station and show them your ID there.

If you’re planning on following along, I’d suggest you start this process soon. It took us a few weeks to get everything accepted.

USA (TD Ameritrade)

And now onto the Americans. For you, we’ll be using TD Ameritrade. Why? TD Ameritrade offers commission-free trading on certain ETFs, and somehow all the ETFs we plan on using are in that list, including all the cool ones run by Vanguard!

If you don’t currently have an account, you can open one up using the link below. We’re going to be only using ETFs on their commission-free list so the advertised “commission-free trades for 60 days” doesn’t really matter. YAY! free shit!

Again, for the purposes of this experiment we’ll be opening up an Individual trading account. We will be talking about how to invest using tax-advantaged accounts in a future post, but to keep things simple we will start with this.

td_signup

The account opening process is fairly straightforward, but at the end you have to print out, sign and snail-mail a whole bunch of documents to their headquarters in Omaha, so again if you’re planning on following along you might want to do this sooner rather than later as it does take a while.

Personal Capital

And finally, we’re going to be using Personal Capital to analyze our portfolio going forward. Why? While I liked the commission-free trading structure of both brokerages, I wasn’t terribly impressed with the portfolio analysis/visualization tools of either of them. Personal Capital has some nifty visualization tools we can use to track our portfolio, plus it supports both Questrade AND TD Ameritrade. So by linking our accounts to Personal Capital, we’ll be able to show one screen to track our portfolio’s performance rather than having to take screenshots of both Questrade AND TD for our American readers.

Opening an account is free (sensing a theme here?) and pretty straightforward. If you don’t have an account, you can open one using this link. If you’re American, use this badge…

And if you’re not, please use this one…

Opening this account is even simpler than opening up the brokerage ones since you don’t need to print anything out, and once you do link your Questrade or TD Ameritrade account so that you can see your trading account. Once that’s done you will be ready to rock and roll.

Personal Capital also has tools you can use to track your net worth similar to Mint.com, so feel free to play around with the interface and see if it strikes your fancy.

OK phew, that’s it! Next week we will go over the steps involved in funding our trading accounts and picking out which ETFs we are going to use for our portfolio. Don’t worry if your paperwork hasn’t been approved yet. We’re going to be spending a few weeks talking about overall strategy, so plenty of time for you to get ready.

Thanks for participating, and let us know if you run into any problems in the comments below!

Click here to continue.

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125 thoughts on “Millennial Revolution Investment Workshop: Intro”

          1. Okay, so as it turns out the affiliate program doesn’t work for Canadians. *sigh* Whatever. We’re not in the for the money, so doesn’t matter. Anyhoo…we updated the post to show the regular link for Canadians so just use that.

    1. The brokerages mentioned aren’t available for Singapore, but you can try to mimic what we’re doing with your own country’s funds. Unfortunately, we don’t have experience with directly investing in the Asian market.

  1. Hey guys, it was my understanding that Personal Capital is not available in Canada. However, if you are able to link Questrade to it, perhaps it is available?

    1. It is available for Canadians, but the affiliate program isn’t. So we won’t get paid for referrals, but that’s okay. Just use the regular link (updated in the post).

      1. It seems to technically be available, but the only account I was able to link to was my Questrade account. My TD and RBC accounts were not able to be linked, only set up manually, which for me defeats the purpose since I already maintain a manual net worth tracker.

  2. Excellent idea, I guess you guys should get prepared for some extra media coverage! Do you have any particular deadline in mind, like you’re aiming 100k by this time, 500k by that, or you just keep on investing and let the pig get fat in it’s own pace?

  3. Hi Wanderer,

    Thanks for doing this. Quick question: For people who have the TD e series mutual funds, is there a free (or low cost) method to transfer the money to Questrade? To make matters a little complicated, I have them in the RRSP umbrella as well.

    Let me know.

    Thanks.

    1. I think TD charges fees to transfer it out, but sometimes the receiving end re-imburses it. You can give Questrade a call and see if they will cover it. Otherwise, just leave it in the e-series, and mirror our ETFs choices with funds that follow the same indexes.

  4. This is GREAT! I have been obsessed with FI blogs and am a changed person because of them. It started because I saw you guys being interview and got curious about your website. Been obsessed ever since. I’m a bit behind (36 years old ) but am motivated to try to retire by 50 or sooner if things go well. I’ll open my accounts today!

  5. Thank you. Just thank you. Reading MMMs blog shamed me into opening up a self-directed account last year. Not with Questrade, so maybe if I like Questrade’s features better after following along, I can switch using your link. So please keep it open (or give advance warning if you’re shutting it down). Incidentally, the brokerage firm I ended up with DID have hidden fees. Not huge hidden fees, but still annoying. Grrrrr.

    Two things that I’d like to see covered, a bit later in the process, are: (1) re-balancing and (2) how to set up withdrawals to minimize taxes.

    And thank you again.

  6. One thing people should know about Mint.com or Personal Capital is you have to give them your account passwords. If you get hacked and money is stolen from you the brokerage will not be responsible because you gave that info away. Every bank I asked told me the same thing.

    1. If you used Mint or Personal Capital you would know your bank information is not stored in your account. If someone hacks your account they cannot do anything.

      That being said, if someone hacked Intuit (Creator of Mint) or Personal Capital themselves they would have access to bank details, sure. But their servers are so secure it is safer to give them your bank details than it is your own bank.

      If you are unwilling to use Mint or PC, then you should also be unwilling to use any online banking or purchase anything from any website because your details could be stolen from their (probably less secure) server.

      1. I did use Mint for a few months until I found out about not being covered from unauthorized access. If you get hacked and they find out you have willingly given your login details to these companies or anyone else don’t expect them to reimburse you. There is a big difference between someone stealing your credit card vs giving away all of your login passwords to a company. I do my tracking with a 2 dollar notebook instead.

        1. Clearly you didn’t read my comment. If YOU get hacked on Mint there are no bank login details the hacker can access and as such no money they can take. Babk details are not stored anywhere on your mint account. As such the hacker cannot take any money from you.

          Again as I said, your bank details are only held on the Intuit server, just as they would be at BMO’s or TD’s server. There is no more risk using Mint as there is using online banking or any online brokerage.

          Anyway, live in fear I guess. I’m sure budgeting on paper must be a walk in the park.

          1. What if you get hacked but not from Mint but your bank says they aren’t paying because you did break their rules of not sharing your passwords? That’s my point. They won’t care if you say Mint is unhackable. To me losing my life savings isn’t worth tracking things I can track already by logging into accounts. Do you also trust insurance companies will do the right thing when it’s time for them to pay? Not if they can avoid it.

            1. I am with Aaron. Don’t trust anybody with your passwords!
              That said, a nice step up from a paper notebook or a static spreadsheet is google docs sheet. In my spreadsheet, I have a line for every stock / bond / cash holding in every account (but no actual account numbers). For stocks the doc pulls in latest market price automatically, so overall portfolio value gets updated automatically. Individual bonds and mutual funds don’t work so well but you won’t be using them for this tutorial! Still need to do manual update for things like Dividends, interest, salary but it’s a lot less tedious. Also added asset allocation feature(by marking each security as stock, bond, give, cash) so can see at a glance where I stand.

              1. In my book I just write down everything I buy, earn and invest in during the month and then at the end of the month I total everything up and check my accounts for where all of my investments are at and my net worth. It takes maybe half an hour or less a month. And it’s easy to look at any time I want to see where I was at the start of the year or whenever. I don’t know why people would need to know their daily net worth or account values through Mint or whatever. Once a month is good for me. The best thing is seeing where you are wasting money and getting rid of those habits. I’ve been writing in a spending journal since I was 17 and it’s a habit I can’t imagine not doing. I don’t see how anyone could be successful without doing that. I might like spreadsheets if I knew how to make them.

            2. Urgh, I’m not even going to bother trying. If there is one thing I’ve come to learn it’s that there are some people who live in constant fear and paranoia of technology and society at large. My mother in law is just like this and it drives me nuts. She doesn’t trust all sorts of things for fear of losing money/identity/privacy you name it. I wouldn’t mind but it’s when they push their irrational (and often misguided) fear onto others that it bothers me. And push it she does.

              You don’t even understand Mint and how it works. Have you even read about their security, researched the concerns of getting hacked when using Mint? It’s an often debated topic. I don’t think it makes any difference though, all you need to hear is a bank to say “don’t give your bank details out” and that’s enough to never trust any website with any bank details, ever. If that’s how you want to live, fair enough.

              And yes I trust insurance companies because I read their terms. As long as you stick within their terms, you’re fine. Don’t read their terms and you’re not. If I get burned from an insurance company it’s my own fault because I didn’t read their terms. You can’t go around complain about it afterwards.

              1. Hacking is becoming prevalent. Every year we hear of major chains being hacked. Target, banks, and many other businesses and institutions are routinely hacked. Providing your bank details to a 3rd party and potentially being hacked without coverage may be a small risk but it is a risk. It is entirely reasonable to prefer notebook or google docs over a 3rd party tracking system.

              2. I specifically asked all of my banks and Questrade if they would recommend me to use Mint or Personal Capital and every one of them said they do not recommend them and if you are hacked they will not be liable for your losses as you gave away your passwords. Maybe you just don’t have much to lose so you are not afraid of that. I do and I worked hard for it. You go ahead and pass out your passwords everywhere, I’m good.

                1. This, right here. I spoke with my bank and they clearly state that we would be in breach of our contract should we provide our login credentials to a third party (Mint/PC). If this is discovered to be the case, the banks could very well choose to not protect under any loss via hacking/security fraud, even outside of that third party.

  7. Hi,

    Is anyone else having trouble signing up for an account with Personal Capital? I try to register but it doesn’t do anything when I press: “sign up – its free” button at the bottom of the screen. I’ve checked off that I am not a robot. Thanks!

  8. Very excited about this! Within days of discovering your blog in early September, I opened up a Questrade account and bought a small amount of VCN ETFs. Yes, my dabbling into investments is entirely thanks to you. Now I am thrilled to follow along with this series in order to take it to the next level. Yah!

  9. This is an awesome idea!

    The only caveat is the $50 fee Questrade charges on RESPs if all your accounts total under $15,000. So you’d not want to open a RESP with them until that point, and if in BC might want to keep another RESP at a big bank anyway that can hold the $1,200 per child BC education and training grant (even RBC Direct Investing is unable to receive or hold that grant yet).

  10. I was able to set up TD Ameritrade and fund it today. They didn’t ask me to mail in any paperwork, maybe it is because I funded the account. I hope this is correct.

      1. I just made an account with TD Ameritrade and they didnt ask me to mail any paperwork either. I don’t have any TD accounts, I wonder if its because you’re in Canada? My funds aren’t showing up but they said they would process it on the next business day. I’m currently doing this on a Sunday night.

  11. If Wanderer or FIREcracker have a Questrade account already, they do offer a referral link that you can provide for friends. This link ID (aka Qpass Key) can be generated from the menu options in your account. It also benefits both parties: the referrer gets $25 for each sign up and the new account holder gets an escalating cash bonus of $25-$250 depending on the amount being deposited.

    http://www.questrade.com/promotions/refer_a_friend

  12. First off, you guys ROCK! I’ve only been reading your blog for about a month or so but I love it! It’s informative and hilarious, and it helps break down some of the uncertainty that comes with investing. I have no investing experience and am just looking to start saving for retirement and financial independence, and the idea of taking all my hard earned money and investing while having no experience left me a little scared. But, knowing what I know about you guys and your success, I feel better about it! In fact, while filling out the forms for TD Ameritrade, I was actually getting *gasp* EXCITED about the idea of investing! I think I may be giddy!

    This is an invaluable service you’re providing! I am so looking forward to your future posts and will be there right alongside you guys! Thank you!

    1. The brokerages mentioned aren’t available for Europe, but you can try to mimic what we’re doing with your own country’s funds. Unfortunately, we don’t have experience investing directly in the European market.

  13. I am so looking forward to this ! Thanks for walking us through it. Should we have initial expectations / goals?

    Some simple math says that the initial $10K should be about $12.5K in five years – a gain of $2,625 (assuming 6% average return from a balanced portfolio).

    Or if we assume we deposit $10K every year for the next five years ($50K), then we should have $56K by the end of 2021 – a gain of $6,371.

    Does this seem about right? I think it’s important to establish that this is not about doubling money in five years or something unrealistic like that.

  14. Awesome stuff!

    Will definitely follow along and sign up with Questrade. I was wondering, I live in Toronto but do have an account with USD with Scotiabank. Could I be able to sign up for TD Ameritrade as well?

    Beyond excited and gratefull!!

  15. For Canadians, I’ve found Personal Capital to be extremely buggy and their customer support to be non-existent. I’ve linked it to my Questrade account but unfortunately there are so many bugs it’s almost useless to use. It mis-allocates deposits to the wrong account, making it look like one of your accounts is killing it and the other sucking. One of my accounts is like +10% in a month and the other -8%. Both have been performing average in reality.

    It also tries to automatically identify any ETF you are holding and allocate it as equity or bonds etc. This is set up great for US customers but it basically doesn’t recognize any Canadian ETF’s and even recognizes them as the wrong ones. A huge chunk of my portfolio is allocated as equity when it is in fact bonds. Obviously for re-balancing it’s now useless. You can manually allocate your ETF’s holding should you choose, but if it does try and allocate them itself, you can’t change it.

    The software is also completely set up for US customers. You can specify how much of your equity is in US equity, but not Canadian. You cannot edit the categories so if you want to track Canadian equity/bonds you have to use “International Equity”, which obviously lumps Canada in with everyone except the US. Not ideal as most Canadian customers care about Canadian equity, not US equity.

    The biggest issue is you can’t manually fix or alter these things. The software is completely rigid and if there is an error, it is there forever. I’ve contacted customer support and they basically don’t help at all. At this point the only use for the software is for tracking my overall performance over the long-term (which I can do myself).

    I also find the graphs neat but not very detailed. Everything is in % but they never back up their graphs with $ amounts. It makes it very difficult to know how accurate their graphs are. They say your portfolio is up 2%, great! Can I see the numbers behind that? No!

    It’s so buggy I basically don’t trust anything it is telling me anymore. I’d rather manually track my investments than a piece of software that seems incapable. I suspect in the long run it will come in useful so I am keeping it around for now, but I certainly wouldn’t rave about it.

  16. I must also say this is quite a gutsy move opening an account with a 1 year horizon right now. You could quite easily end up down in the current market with a 1 year time span. Hats off to you!

  17. are you able to canada tsx listed stocks to personal capital? for example, i’m trying to add XIC and it won’t let me…

    1. Personal Capital does not recognise any Canadian ETF to my knowledge.

      It will recognize you have XIC but it won’t know what the hell that is. You can manually enter what XIC is though, within their rigid restrictions. So since XIC tracks the TSX, you would have to allocate this as international equity since Canadian equity is not an option.

  18. You guys seriously rock! Thank you times a hundred! My hubby and I were just saying we wished there was a step by step guide and voila! Your next post came around! Bless you both as you fight the good fight.

    1. YES YES YES!

      Same – totally intimidated by the idea of investing. SO grateful to Firecracker and Wanderer for making this accessible to everyone! You guys are amazing.

  19. I assume that Canadian Questrade account users will be holding a large percentage of US listed ETFs. Could you please discuss the %2 (hidden) fee that Questrade charges for currency conversion. So that “free” purchase of $10,000 worth of etfs actually costs $200. Also, selling that etf will cost $210.95 rather than the $10.95 advertised. As awesome engineers and financial wizards, you should point out, for your readers, how Questrade really makes its money.

    1. What makes you assume Canadian Questrade users will hold US ETF’s?

      You can own the entire US stock market in Canadian ETF’s so there is no real need to hold any US ETF’s anyway. The only reason would be if you want to hold accounts in USD.

      I haven’t looked at their fee structure, but why would you convert currency via Questrade if you were wanting to buy US ETF’s anyway? You’d exchange the money at your bank (or wherever you usually exchange CAD to USD) and then send the money to a USD account in Questrade (incurring no fees).

      Selling the ETF would not cost $210.95 as you do not need to convert any currency. Questrade can manage both USD and CAD accounts without having to convert anything.

      Essentially, convert your money outside of Questrade and send it to whatever (CAD or USD) account you have in Questrade to avoid having to exchange money there. Anyway, anywhere you convert currency you will be charged a fee (hidden or not) in the exchange rate itself.

      I’ve been using Questrade for 2 years now and they’ve earned virtually nothing from me as I only buy ETF’s (free) and very rarely sell.

      1. Thank you for your response.

        And thank you for setting me straight on the CAD->USD exchange in Questrade. You are totally correct. I should be funding from separate accounts.

        Also, I had no idea you could buy ETFs that hold US or international equities in CAD. (Mind blown. Looking forward to following the series)

        1. No worries and you’re welcome. We’re all learning here at various levels of experience.

          I’m somewhat new to investing but have been reading FIRE blogs for a couple of years and been investing (on Questrade) for around 2 years now so I think I have most the basics down pat, now moving onto more intermediate stuff (and moving towards a 100% equity portfolio, which I wouldn’t advise most people to do). To be honest though, once you have the basics down it’s mostly just about being disciplined and avoiding emotion. I haven’t been through a market crash so only time will tell how that goes but I’m pretty confident I’d hold out.

          In terms of holding equities in CAD, I particularly like the following ETF’s

          Canadian Equity – VCN (220 Largest Canadian Companies)
          US Equity – VUN (3600 Largest US Companies)
          Intl Equity (Exc. US) – VEF (3800 Largest Intl Companies exc. US)
          Intl Equity (Exc. Canada) – VXC (8,400 Largest Intl Companies exc. Canada)

          These are all Vanguard ETF’s as I prefer to use them wherever possible (https://www.vanguardcanada.ca/individual/etfs/etfs.htm) but iShares also have a lot available (https://www.blackrock.com/ca/individual/en/products/product-list#!type=iSharesETFCA&tab=overview&view=list)

          1. Those are awesome. I heart Vanguard.

            I do use a combo of VIU + VEE for international, on the theory that VIU might be marginally better than VXC because it holds stocks directly and isn’t subject to the layer of US dividend taxes VXC is (because that holds US ETFs instead of holding stocks directly). Though VXC is a perfectly good ETF and lets you simplify your portfolio a lot if you want an emphasis on Canada; you can just do VCN (Canada) + VXC (rest of the world) and leave it at that.

            Personally I buy VCN (Canada) + VUN (U.S.) + VIU (developed countries outside North America) + VEE (developing countries). The fees across the whole shebang averaged out to 0.14%, last time I updated the various fees in my spreadsheet.

            All of the above are in Canadian currency. At some point I plan to start buying some US ETFs (especially to replace VUN) because you can generally get equivalent ETFs with lower fees in the US – the benefits of a bigger population and more efficiencies with products like this. Although I doubt they have an equivalent of *VCN* with a lower fee, because Canada is likely to be the biggest market for that particular ETF (it’s already insanely cheap at 0.06%).

            The most cost-efficient way to exchange currencies is using Norbert’s Gambit – you can Google more details, but basically, it means you buy a particular stock on the TSX in Canadian currency, and then you get your brokerage to convert it to the exact same stock listed in the US – there shouldn’t be a fee for this part. Then you just sell it and get the USD. Often people do this with DLR.U, which is an ETF – so no cost to buy it on Questrade – plus it is an ETF for US currency; one unit of DLR.U = one US dollar. So you know when you make the purchase exactly how many US dollars you’re getting. Because there is a cost to sell this on Questrade, you don’t want to do this in small chunks – the more $ you convert at a time, the cheaper it is per dollar. I don’t think I’m going to do it with less than $10K at a time.

            My advice to beginners is: stick to just buying ETFs in your local currency until you are much more comfortable with the whole thing. It’s not efficient to do currency conversion until you’ve accumulated a fair chunk of money to do it with anyway. 🙂 And at least in Canada, the local-currency offerings are decent enough that you could stick with them forever and be fine – no need to fiddle further with it if you’re not optimization-obsessed like SOME of us *cough*.

            1. It’s hard not to fiddle the more you learn! I used to have a super simple portfolio but the more you read the more you want to fiddle. Now I hold all sorts of crap like REIT’s, Gold, Energy, Preferred Shares etc. I sometimes want to go back to the basics haha.

              Generally though, just VXC and VCN have been killing it this year (especially VCN!)

  20. Awesome, I really look forward to this workshop.

    On an unrelated note, I was wondering what you guys would do in a hyperinflation environment. During intense deflation (2008 crash, am I right?) you constantly rebalaned your portfolio. Is there a similar measure to take in a hyperinflation situation (as unlikely as it is to occur in our lifetimes) to come out on too once the smoke clears?

    1. Essentially the opposite of deflation. Stocks increase when inflation is high as companies are selling their goods for higher prices. If you are trying to keep your portfolio balanced you would end up selling stocks and buying bonds (which would have fallen during inflation).

      If you are getting more plucky with your investing and you really expect inflation to kick in in the future, gold and real estate are two good hedges against high inflation. Money tends to flock to both of these as they are seen as “safe” investments. This is why some portfolio managers hold a small amount (<5%) of REIT's and gold ETF's in their portfolios.

      If you are just starting out though I certainly wouldn't start dabbling with that just yet.

  21. Thx for starting this…still never ceases to amaze me how ppl are retarded and can’t figure this out. Now they have no excuse with this post and series!

  22. Great info, thanks! As a Millennial, what do you think of the new Fintech product offerings for automated investing, such as BMO SmartFolio and Wealthsimple?

    1. To keep things simple, we’re going to stick with self-directed investing for this workshop. This will help people understand investing better, as you will learn it from the ground up. We’ll leave robo-advisors for a future workshop.

  23. What do you guys think of dividend aristocrats such as SPDR S&P Dividend (SDY), ProShares S&P 500 Aristocrats (NOBL), and SPDR S&P Global Dividend (WDIV).

    I was thinking I should just park my money in one of those long term, get the dividends every quarter and watch the fund grow.

    1. In our experience, Canadian dividend aristocrats carry a sector risk since they are heavily weighted toward financials and oil. During the oil rout in 2015, dividend stocks got hit hard. This is why we advocate for index investing instead. You can still rely on fixed income and dividends that your portfolio pays out in the event of a market correction, without having to take the risk of your stocks crashing to zero (this could happen with individual dividend paying stocks, but not for the index)

      The American dividend aristocrats may have a different sector weighting, but still carries with it a sector risk over the broad index.

  24. You guys are awesome. I’m so excited for this. I have been dying to start investing but was so afraid because I’m savvy enough. I open a robo- investment account and have been monitoring it for 6 months, so far I’m losing money and still don’t know the details of investing.

  25. can’t follow step by step the workshop (I’m European), but I’m here with you 🙂
    Amazing idea, thanks for what you’re doing and for doing it for free! You’re definitely awesome!

  26. Wanderer,

    I just opened an Ameritrade account online, went through all the steps and the correct balance is there. However, got lost your advice for using Personal Capital. Is this found on my Ameritrade page? What’s it for?

  27. Thanks so much for starting this! Also, thanks for your prompt reply via Twitter a few weeks back!

    Anyway, quick question. Currently have mutual funds with TD Investment Services, NOT e-series. I’d like to transfer and use these funds for this to Questrade. Am I in the position to suffer any penalties for redeeming these mutual funds, or is there a better way of transferring?

    Complete novice here, sorry for the ignorance.

    1. Last time I looked at those funds, there was a 30-day 2% early-redemption penalty, so just stop buying more units and you can liquidate after 30 days if you want. Check your prospectus.

  28. Awesome idea! Can’t wait to follow along. Thank you for literally putting your $$ where your mouth is. Given the number and enthusiasm of comments, this will be an educational and fun public service, no matter where the markets are in 1 year (or 10).

  29. Thank you thank you thank you!! This is the post I’ve been waiting for! I am so excited to go on this journey with you. You have changed my life.

  30. I love that you guys are doing this. I set up my Questrade account a few weeks ago, and have only been putting off going to my bank to get my RRSP and TFSA transferred over. Frankly, I haven’t been able to find info online as to how complicated that is. I’m expecting a fee from RBC, and that should get it done, right?

    I’m guessing that you guys aren’t doing TFSA and RRSP simply because you already have yours set up and maxed out? The process isn’t any different than doing it in an unsheltered account, is it?

  31. I could not connect Questrade to any of them PersonalCapital or Mint.com.
    How that worked for you?
    Do I enable any feature under Questrade? or I need to complete my profile in Mint or personal capital first

    1. My Questrade account to complete it’s application including sending in paperwork before linking worked, so maybe that’s it. Otherwise, it was just a matter of picking Questrade from Personal Capital’s dropdown and signing in.

  32. Not sure it is the best, but for those afraid of linking accounts by providing logins/passwords (I feel the same way), I have played around with Morningstar.com / .ca. You can create multiple portfolios, add the fund, date, units purchased, dollar amount and then it tracks it for you. I have done this for actual portfolios I have and to simulate if I had done something else (“test” portfolio) what would have happened. This might be a suitable solution for some of you, instead of excel or pencil and paper.

  33. Thank you for doing this! I have a BMO investor line account but my TFSA and RRSP is maxed out with them so time for some investments in non registered accounts. I open up my Quest trade account. Just waiting to fund it now. This may be answered in future posts, but are you both planning on doing an initial $10,000 then monthly dollar cost averaging with QT? Say $500 a month?

    Thank you both for doing this 🙂

  34. Would this challenge work if I only have $5,000 to invest?
    I’m planning to allocate it 60/40, but am starting to learn about options and will eventually take out $1,000 to start trading options.
    Or is this below the minimum?

  35. Also, if I set up an account on Ameritrade without Options trading, can I change it later?

    PS– LOVE that you guys are doing this!!! I’ve been reading tons of blogs, and have learned a lot of strategies, but don’t know how to *actually* start. So, thank you!

    1. I believe both TD Ameritrade and Questrade don’t have account minimums, so $5k should work just fine. Invest with whatever you feel comfortable with, I only picked $10k because it’s a nice round number.

      As for options, yes you can add options support later, but we will NOT be trading options for this workshop. You can dabble on your own if you’d like, but I wouldn’t make options trading a serious part of your retirement strategy.

  36. Hi there,

    What are the benefits to using a program such as Questrade over a banking institutions online personal investing?

    Thanks 🙂

  37. I’m confused about this self investing versus getting signed up with The Bearded One. Are these two ways exclusive from each other, or how do they work together in the big Plan?

    1. The portfolio we have with Garth is a more complex version of the self-investing strategy. It includes preferred shares, REITs, high-yield bonds, etc. Way too complicated for self-directed investing and more geared towards retirees, who are relying on the portfolio for income.

      The portfolio we will be building in the Investment Workshop will be simple and straightforward, geared towards people in the accumulation phase. We will be using low-cost index ETFs. This is good for people who are starting out, as it will help them understanding investing from the ground up.

      Hope that answers you question.

      1. Yes it does thanks- self direct investing while accumulating, which then rolls into a steady income retirement package at some point 🙂

  38. Thanks so much for your workshop. I have been diligently reading this blog for the past few weeks and starting to slowly wrap my head around investment principles. You have really ignited my interest in taking control of my personal finances. I’m a Canadian ex-pat living in Australia so I’m going to try my best to follow along where I can.

    There are unfortunately no brokerage firms that offer commission free buying ETFs in Australia but I did find 2 recommended brokerage firms with the lowest fees but I’m unsure which one to sign up to based on the requirements of this workshop.

    Interactive Brokers has a fixed fee of 0.08% of the trade value for ETFs and they also charge a monthly fee of $20. They have US listed ETFs available.

    CMC Markets charges a 0.09% trade fee but has no monthly fee. However they don’t have US listed ETFs available. Vanguard Australia offers some ETFs that track the US market that can be bought through CMC.

    As this workshop is meant to be passive investing, will we be rebalancing only a few times a year? And are you going to be buying any US listed ETFs or just the Canadian equivalents that track the same indexes? If we’re only rebalancing a few times a year and not investing directly in US listed ETFs it seems like CMC markets might be a better option for me. Would really appreciate if you could point me in the best direction.

    1. We’ll be running a Canadian portfolio denominated in CAD, and a US portfolio denominated in USD, and each will trade in ETFs listed on their own exchanges. So your equivalent would be Australian-listed ETFs tracking, for example, the US indexes. I have zero experience in Australian brokerages, but based on what you’ve told me I’d go with CMC.

  39. Anyone know what this statement means:

    “Questrade, Inc. may disclose my name, address, email address, security holdings, and preferred language to issuers of securities I own as well as to other persons or companies in accordance with securities laws.”

    In what circumstances would my information be disclosed?

    1. When you’re the shareholder of an ETF, you’re entitled to prospectuses and annual stockholder meeting/announcements. They need your information so they can send those things to you.

      We get a ton of prospectuses each year because of the ETFs we own (we mostly use them as kindling ;P)

  40. I’m interested in following along, however from a long term perspective, I was thinking to transfer over my RRSP to the Questrade account.

    Does it make sense to set up a an equity fund under RRSP?

    You mentioned that we should start with a TFSA; will we be making a one time purchase or will we use dollar cost averaging. Some people don’t have $10 000 to transfer right away, would this matter?

    1. Generally, we like to put equities in TFSA and bonds in RRSP. We’ll be going over the how to set everything up to be tax efficient in a future workshop session.

      If you have RRSP room, you can open an RRSP account in Questrade and transfer your them over. Same with TFSA.

      And to answer your question, we will be using DCA, so it’s fine if you don’t have $10K right away.

  41. Hey W&F, wanted to let you know that you two finally prompted me to started a Questrade account, but I didn’t finish it, and Questrade just called me to get the job done.

    He wasn’t able to use the promo code, so I went in and manually added it to make sure that you guys get a little kick back. Thanks!
    Always a big fan of yours,
    Melissa

      1. ok thanks. one more question, can I transfer funds from an Rsp. do I need to open a margin only or can I open a margin and a Rsp

        thanks

        patrick

  42. random thought – I’m a reader and would love to invest and allow visability to it’s progress – I have data currently from 2013 to present – but would invest more for the cause and prove the point.. in the ups and downs…

    let me know how I can help

  43. I just found your blog recently and am enjoying reading your contents. I’m in the U.S. and already have a Vanguard account with investments in Vanguard Total Stock Market Index and Vanguard Total Bond Market Index funds. I’m not sure I understand the need to open a TD Ameritrade account to invest in Vanguard ETF when I can open an account directly with Vanguard. Can you please clarify? Also is ETF synonymous with index funds? Is there any subtle difference? Thanks!

    1. If you have a Vanguard account already, you don’t need to open a TD Ameritrade account. Our preference for TD Ameritrade is because we used them before but have not used Vanguard directly.

      ETF and mutual funds are investment vehicles, whereas indexing is a strategy. So you could have ETFs that are actively managed and aren’t buying the index. For our purposes, we are using index ETFs because they have the lowest fees. Index funds are mutual funds, so they tend to have higher fees.

  44. I think the Personal Capitol link on this page, which works, is the American version. The other 2 links aren’t working for me. Is there a Canadian link? Or does the page look the same?

  45. I’m happy you guys posted up a code – I’ve been meaning to open an RRSP for awhile (I currently have a TFSA with Questrade).

    Just finished the application now. I rather support you guys than some random dude’s code I find online 🙂

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