Workshop 31: Why Everyone Needs to Learn To Invest

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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.
Wanderer
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Hello again and welcome back to the Millennial Revolution Investment Workshop! New readers, please click here to start from the beginning.

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It’s no secret that this blog has attracted its fair share of haters. “Oh, you’re so biased!” they moan. “You’re not being fair to homeowners!” the complain. “You must hate housing!”

For the record, we don’t hate housing. In TV and radio interviews we try to repeat this as much as possible because it’s a misconception that we hate housing, or we think housing is bad as an investment. We DO, however, think it’s USELESS as an investment.

The whole point of the Personal Finance industry (and, by extension, Personal Finance Blogs like this one) is to teach you how to manage your money so you can stop working. A happy retirement is the end-goal of every Finance Planner out there (or at least, the ethical ones). After all, if we were all guaranteed a well-paying job, never had to worry about job loss or health issues, and were OK with working until we die, then why would you care about your finances?

But that’s not the world we live in. One day we’re all going to leave the workforce one way or another (preferably by choice), and it would be super-duper if when that happened we didn’t have to worry about starving in the street.

So we here at the Millennial Revolution teach people how to do two things: Save their money, and Invest it.

Because when you’re working, saving does this…

It converts the income stream you get from participating in the workforce into a nice, fat Pile Of Money. And you do that because at some point, you’re going to want to do this…

That’s what investing does. It not only grows your Pile Of Money when you’re still working, but it also turns it into a Passive Income Stream. Savings and Investing are what allow you to retire. If you only do one but not the other, it doesn’t help.

But wait, the haters say, why do I need to learn the complicated stuff about Saving and Investing when I can just buy a house! A house is a FORCED SAVINGS PLAN. And a FORCED RETIREMENT PLAN. Or something.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but nope. Because this is the typical cash flow of a typical indebted homeowner. First you get a job, then a house. But since you can’t afford a house, you have to get a mortgage.

You then work for many many years to pay off that mortgage, converting your debt into a single undiversified asset, your Paid-Off House.

And then…what?

A Paid-Off House doesn’t really change your day-to-day life, other than not having to make a mortgage payment every month. You can’t flip your boss off and quit because you still need your Employment Income to put food on the table, so what was the point?

And yes, you could sell the thing and turn your Paid-Off House into a Pile Of Cash, but even if you do that, you STILL have to figure out how to invest it and turn it into a Passive Income Stream. So even if you manage to play the housing game perfectly, you’ll have to learn the exact skills this blog talks about eventually. The only difference is whether you do it now or whether you do it 25 years from now.

And while real-estate investing (i.e. buying a rental unit and becoming a landlord) is a valid way to generate cashflow in retirement, that doesn’t mean you can jam everything you have into 1 house, rent out the basement and call that a retirement plan. Diversification, as in buying multiple, relatively inexpensive properties in different locations to hedge your bets is important, as well as being aware of how much work it actually takes to be a landlord. Anyone who says it’s easy or thinks property managers will fix everything is a big fat liar.

The way I like to explain it to people is that learning how to Save & Invest is like learning a martial art. Mastering a skill like that takes time, discipline, and lots and lots of practice, but by the time someone has invested the time and the effort into becoming proficient enough to kill someone with their bare hands, they’ve also acquired the discipline and self-control to not use that skill recklessly. People with black-belts tend not to go home and murder their spouse in a drunken rage. The time and discipline required to acquire that skill acts as a built-in self-control mechanism.

Gambling, on the other hand, whether putting all your money on an individual stock, or an individual house doesn’t have this. Even if you’re right, those gains are, statistically, attributable to blind dumb luck. Yet it makes the investor believe they’re a genius when they totally aren’t. That’s why people who come into too much money too fast tend to lose it all. Mike Tyson made $300 Million dollars over his career, yet had to declare bankruptcy years later. Michael Jackson somehow died broke, and he had more money than most 3rd world countries!

If you’re handed money, either from housing gains or a lucky stock pick, without first acquiring the skill and discipline to know what to do with that money, you’ll eventually end up squandering it.

Remember, the point of having money isn’t to own a giant house.

The point of having money is be able to live your life with freedom.

And on that note, let’s proceed with our next set of portfolio buys, shall we?

Canadian Portfolio

As always, we get add our new cash in and get a snapshot of our current portfolio allocation…

Asset Ticker Unit Price Units Market Value Allocation Target Allocation
Canadian Bonds VAB $25.90 104 $2,693.60 37.37% 40%
Canadian Index VCN $30.90 43 $1,328.70 18.44% 20%
US Index VUN $45.13 30 $1,353.90 18.79% 20%
EAFE Index XEF $30.24 35 $1,058.40 14.69% 16%
Emerging Markets XEC $26.06 10 $260.60 3.62% 4%
Cash $1.00 511.77 $511.77 7.10% 0%

Then we figure out what transactions we need to do in order to rebalance back to target…

Asset Ticker Target Allocation Unit Price Current Market Value Target Market Value Current Units Target Units Difference
Canadian Bonds VAB 40% $25.90 $2,693.60 $2,882.79 104 111.3 7.3
Canadian Index VCN 20% $30.90 $1,328.70 $1,441.39 43 46.6 3.6
US Index VUN 20% $45.13 $1,353.90 $1,441.39 30 31.9 1.9
EAFE Index XEF 16% $30.24 $1,058.40 $1,153.12 35 38.1 3.1
Emerging Markets XEC 4% $26.06 $260.60 $288.28 10 11.1 1.1
Cash 0% $1.00 $511.77 $0.00 511.77 0.0 -511.8

And finally, we decide on our orders being careful not to go over our cash balance.

Asset Ticker Unit Price Action Fractional Units Units Proceeds
Canadian Bonds VAB $25.90 BUY 7.3 8 $207.20
Canadian Index VCN $30.90 BUY 3.6 3 $92.70
US Index VUN $45.13 BUY 1.9 2 $90.26
EAFE Index XEF $30.24 BUY 3.1 3 $90.72
Emerging Markets XEC $26.06 BUY 1.1 1 $26.06
Total $506.94

American Portfolio

And now for our American readers, we add our US cash into the mix and get a snapshot of our current portfolio allocations…

Asset Ticker Unit Price Units Market Value Allocation Target Allocation
Bonds BND $82.08 33 $2,708.64 37.26% 40%
US Index VTI $125.22 16 $2,003.52 27.56% 30%
International Index VEU $50.12 40 $2,004.80 27.58% 30%
Cash $1.00 552.17 $552.17 7.60% 0%

As figure out our rebalancing transactions…

Asset Ticker Target Allocation Unit Price Current Market Value Target Market Value Current Units Target Units Difference
Bonds BND 40% $82.08 $2,708.64 $2,907.65 33 35.4 2.4
US Index VTI 30% $125.22 $2,003.52 $2,180.74 16 17.4 1.4
International Index VEU 30% $50.12 $2,004.80 $2,180.74 40 43.5 3.5
Cash 0% $1.00 $552.17 $0.00 552.17 0.0 -552.2

And finally, we decide on our unit orders being careful not to go over our cash reserves…

Asset Ticker Unit Price Action Fractional Units Units Proceeds
Bonds BND $82.08 BUY 2.4 2 $164.16
US Index VTI $125.22 BUY 1.4 1 $125.22
International Index VEU $50.12 BUY 3.5 4 $200.48
Total $489.86

And that’s it for this week! See you next Wednesday everyone!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed is provided as a general source of information only and should not be considered to be personal investment advice or solicitation to buy or sell securities. Investors considering any investment should consult with their investment advisor to ensure that it is suitable for the investor’s circumstances and risk tolerance before making any investment decisions. The information contained in this blog was obtained from sources believe to be reliable, however, we cannot represent that it is accurate or complete.

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36 thoughts on “Workshop 31: Why Everyone Needs to Learn To Invest”

  1. Well put words and I believe strongly that having both home and investement portfolio like this one is optimal choice IMHO. Ofcourse if one can buy a home at reasonable price and can avail cash cushion to build the index ETF portfolio.

    I have question being newb, I see that bonds (VAB) is down along with equities. Aren’t they suppose to be hedge each other.. May be I might have missed if its already discussed in the previous threads.

    Btw, thank you for the mental preparation that provided in these workshops so that I did not felt bad that my first buys got tanked with in 24 hrs significantly..
    I am bit excited to go down so that I can buy more units with my next buy….
    As usual..thank you for one more explanatory post..

    1. “I see that bonds (VAB) is down along with equities. Aren’t they suppose to be hedge each other?”

      Generally, the two move in opposite directions. In terms of market stress, money moves from equities to fixed income and vice versa. However there are certain events that causes both to move in the same direction, for the short term. An example of this is interest changes, like the one that just happened. We’ll take more about this in an upcoming article.

      1. Thanks W,
        Btw..as some on mentioned in the previous section, is it a good strategy to do unscheduled buys when the markets (the ETFs in this workshop) tank below 1%.

        I know you guys advised not to trade by the market news…
        But isn’t it prepone the next scheduled by when there was decent dip to cover up..

        Really appreciate your take on this as I almost got tempted yesterday but controlled my urge..may be this is a test for discipline …

  2. “To teach you how to manage your money so you can stop working” That is the key thing people should have in mind everyday!

    Well done MR in doing that. I’m on my way to FIRE..8 years, 2 months, 5 days and counting down !

  3. I am a bug fan of FIRE and actively working on getting there myself. I do not however subscribe to your philosophy of bashing housing as an investment. IMHO a mortgage, a paid off house, or renting are all the same. Cost of living. And notice that this here sentence doesn’t have investment, or returns anywhere in it. They are just different ways of paying for a roof over your head. And as for which is best, it really depends on the price and value. Housing at 17x of your gross yearly salary is probably expensive. But then again, renting can be expensive as well, or not available (in Hungary renting is pretty much only condos and apartments, if you want to rent a house, you’re shit out of luck for the most part, or have to be willing to fork over some serious cash)

    My approach is that your primary residence is not an investment, but I do think that rental real estate is an investment, and should be valued against other classes, with risk taken into account, just as any other investment.

    Anyway. Love your blog, keep on living the good life 🙂

  4. Saving and not investing is pointless; investing without savings is impossible.

    The speed or way we save will vary, as will how each of us invests, but I think that statement is a good truth for all FIRE aspirers. As a real-estate investor (1 unit) and passive ETF investor who will be renting for the next few years, I agree home-ownership (as opposed to real estate investing) isn’t the be-all-end-all.

    Great blog, keep up the good work!

  5. Would you consider doing a ‘fly in the ointment’ example one time? I would like to see how the re-allocation done under the scenario where there is no cash infusion one week, or, horrors, you might have to withdrawn one week. Life rarely goes as planned – sometimes it hands you an unexpected $5000 dental bill which your work benefit plan doesn’t cover. I’d love to see what happens that week, and when you step back, on the entire portfolio. Just a suggestion.

    1. This, because my car is going to have to go in for repair, and it will be another $1,000 out of the investment account.

    2. This is why we advocating having 6-month living expenses worth of emergency funds before you start investing.

      If unexpected things happen, stop investing and only proceed once you are back on track. It makes no sense to do long term investing if you need the money short term. We’ll look into writing a post about this in the future. Thanks for the suggestion.

  6. Many people never need to learn about how to invest. The majority of people, as you described, buy a house, pay the mortgage, then retire with said paid off house. If they’re low on funds they sell the house, move somewhere cheaper then hire a financial adviser to do all their investing. Most people I know in retirement have done or are planning to do exactly this.

    In fact, no offence, but you guys hired Garth Turner to do your investing for you, so obviously you had no idea (or didn’t have the confidence) to do it yourself either. And you ended up retiring in a few years so it worked out pretty well for you. Not sure if, how, why or when you stopped using Garth’s services but I doubt you’re considerably better off by going solo if that’s the case.

    I’m confident I could manage my own portfolio for my entire life, but I might end up giving my money to someone like Garth to do it for me one day when the pile is big enough. Managing $1,000,000+ is pretty stressful, even for those competent investors. Financial advisers also provide a lot more than simply investing your money, they know a lot about reducing taxes etc. that benefit you in other ways. This alone might be worth the annual fee they charge.

    To summarize, most people never have a clue how to invest, they just pay someone else to do it for them.

    1. Most people never learn how to repair their own cars or grow their own food, either. That doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable skills.

      Thanks to blogs like this one, I at least have the knowledge to passively invest in a couple of index funds, boosting my investment income from a hundred or two per year (previously from some bank-pushed GIC nonsense), to at least that much per month, and climbing. That’s a pretty good return on a few hours’ worth of reading, in my opinion.

      Even the experts say that professional financial management isn’t worthwhile until you have well over $100,000 to invest. Learning how to do some of it yourself helps you get to that figure considerably faster, and gives you some ammo to find someone competent once you have the big money to invest.

      I think you’re majorly downplaying the saving and investing that Wanderer and Kristy had to do before they got to the point of having enough money to have their portfolio managed by Garth Turner, not to mention the knowledge and fortitude it took to ride out the 2008 recession.

      1. Oh for sure, I’m not saying it’s not a useful skill that will help you throughout your life, but you can easily go through life perfectly successfully without knowing squat about investing, just like repairing cars or growing food. You might be worse off for it but plenty of people end up just fine.

        And yes, I wouldn’t consider a professional adviser until my portfolio is large enough to warrant it either, namely because the good advisers require large minimum balances. Those who manage small portfolios are a bunch of commission paid scammers who couldn’t care less about you or your money.

        I agree MR certainly kicked ass with saving money before finding Garth, but that’s down to frugality, not investing (as far as I know they didn’t invest until they found Garth, but I may be mistaken).

        As for surviving the 2008 recession, something tells me the knowledge and advice from Garth helped a lot with this (another bonus of using an adviser is it’s more difficult to panic sell, as the adviser controls your money and will reason you out of it). Going through a market crash with a personally managed portfolio of $500,000 without choking isn’t easy at all.

        1. Ask the people who invested with Bernie Madoff if they wish they hadn’t learned how to invest. Or the multitude of celebrities who got taken by their “financial advisor”…

          If it’s your money you better learn how to take care of it!

    1. I met sara few months back in one REIT seminar and yes she had a plan and guts to maintain those properties..Not every one can take the hassle of maintaining the rental properties with overheads, bad tenants, miscellaneous expenses..

      Anyways, I kind of liked FIRE’s approach in investing in ETFs which can be liquidated at any time and no hassle of maintaining and will return similar growth in longer term as housing investments…

  7. “But wait, the haters say, why do I need to learn the complicated stuff about Saving and Investing when I can just buy a house!”

    Haven’t seen anyone say this. Buying a house and investing are not mutually exclusive. Most Canadian homeowners do both. You should look at the Stats Can figures on household wealth – you’d find it is is not black and white.

    “The only difference is whether you do it now or whether you do it 25 years from now.”

    Except for, say, people who did it after five or seven years of home ownership in Vancouver or Toronto. We have seen an influx of homeowners who sold in Vancouver and bought here in Victoria and who have retired early as a result.

    The real math is how much difference will there be to invest each month if you buy vs. rent and does it put you ahead or behind over a period of time in terms of net worth.

    You both rent right now, whether in Canada or abroad. Home ownership would take a big bite out of your passive income, not so much for someone who bought when the market was lower and for whom renting out while they travel is an acceptable plan.

    “If you’re handed money, either from housing gains or a lucky stock pick, without first acquiring the skill and discipline to know what to do with that money, you’ll eventually end up squandering it.”

    Really? Where is your data on this? The internet makes a lot of information accessible and some people are going to want to go for early retirement, others are not. A lot of people like their jobs and don’t want to stop. I do agree that learning to invest without “advisors” is the way to go.

    “Even if you’re right, those gains are, statistically, attributable to blind dumb luck.”

    Equating gambling with owning a house is ridiculous. One has intrinsic value and a long history of appreciation in desirable areas. One provides you with shelter, a basic cost in life, the other is literally a crap shoot. It is odd to me that you review the stats and data on investing but not on home ownership and attribute appreciation to luck that is too big of a gamble for a sane person to take – despite the long-term odds and shelter benefit.

    “We DO, however, think it’s USELESS as an investment.”

    Tell that to the many Canadians who downsize and invest the difference. Or those that HELOC and invest the proceeds. Again, the Stats Can data might be of assistance in evaluating your premises.

    Most Canadians do plan to use their home equity in retirement. On average they plan to access 10% of the equity in retirement and 24% will rely on home equity for retirement. Eight percent plan to downsize and retire using the difference.

    That is more than those who will save and invest and retire without a home as you have done as that lifestyle is not appealing to everyone. A lot of people want a stable neighbourhood and residence, especially if they have children.

    That all said, your save and invest and keep rental cost low is a great way to go for lots of people. What you have done is really fantastic and eye-opening for those who are like-minded. You just have some house data blinders on.

    1. ““If you’re handed money, either from housing gains or a lucky stock pick, without first acquiring the skill and discipline to know what to do with that money, you’ll eventually end up squandering it.”

      Really? Where is your data on this? ”

      I don’t know about the data for lucky stock picks or housing gains but the youtube channel Today I found out just did a couple of videos on lottery winners who squandered away all of their winnings and some of them ended up in a lot of debt within just 5 ore so years of winning. They also mentioned that even people who use the winnings to start a business don’t end up much better off than those who squandered the money because they ever learned how to run a business properly and just throw money at every problem that comes up until there isn’t any money left. It seems that easily acquired money instills an “easy come, easy go” attitude in people who lack the discipline to save and invest rather than spend.

    2. I agree with indigo:”many Canadians who downsize and invest the difference. Or those that HELOC and invest the proceeds” That’s exactly how I got most of my cash to invest. I vigorously paid off my mortgage. Then I took at HELOC on my paid off house and invested that. (I love investing the bank’s money)I slowly paid off the HELOC and claimed the loan interest on my income taxes. Then when I downsized my house from a city to a house in a rural town, I took the substantial difference and invested that. It made a huge difference to my portfolio rather than trying to save and invest only monthly. It gave me the head start and now I have a mortgage free home and a sizable growing portfolio.

  8. It doesn’t matter if you want to buy a house or don’t, you have to learn about investing. Otherwise you are going to pay extra to someone who will be doing your job for you. And in 80% it’s going to be bad job

  9. Great point about the folly of relying on a property manager. I owned six houses but eventually got rid of them all as it was seemingly more difficult to manage the property manager– simply different issues than managing tenants.

    It may be different in other cities however in Atlanta the financial incentives are completely misaligned. Rather than fostering a win/win relationship the industry compensation model pays the prop mgr more for doing a shit job. For example my PM got a tenant placement fee for every new tenant and 10% mgmt fee for ongoing rent. The net effect of this was that they had no incentive to place quality tenants. If a tenant left after a year, or sooner, they would simply re-list the house and make another finders fee. And if the property stayed vacant for 2-3-4-5 months no big deal, they figured they weren’t losing much (it would have to be vacant 10 months to be the same a single finders fee).

    These were top quality houses, refurbished to high standard, 3/2 in nice neighbourhoods, swim/tennis communities, one of them on a lake. No reason to fail that badly. And I tried multiple companies. If somebody could open a company where the PM and prop owner incentives were aligned, well that would be a money spinner.

  10. So, turning a large portfolio over to an FA? Assuming your going to want to pull the (generally accepted) 4% as your withdrawal rate, you’re okay with providing your FA 25% to 38% of that? Also, if your FA actively manages your folio, your doubly screwed. Actively managed funds have never beat index investing over the long term.
    Learn how to invest in index funds (about as hard as taking a nap), perform asset allocation (and do so maybe once a year).

    If you actually read this awesome blog and follow their advice, you’ll do better than ~80% of investors (the ones that chase above average returns).

    Last – over and over throughout the entirety of this blog, Wanderer and FC consistently state they are not against home ownership. They caution against getting house horny, which is devastating to many potential retirees. I’m a homeowner. but my portfolio is worth 6X what my house is worth. There are many, many “investors” where those values are inverse. Google JLCollinsNH and home ownership. He’s a personal hero of mine who wrote a great ( and funny) article about the merits of home ownership ( and yes, he owns a home).

    1. Stating you are not against housing and actually acting as if you are not against housing are different things. The ONLY time I’ve ever since this blog recommend buying a house is when it is undeniably, certifiably the best choice during even the most biased mathematical assumptions MR uses.

      For buying a house to be considered the better choice using their assumptions, the cash flow savings have to be unbelievable. Here is an example of why their assumptions are ridiculous:

      Option 1 – Invest $500,000 at 6%. After 10 years this is about $900,000.

      Option 2 – Buy a house for $500,000 and invest the cash flow savings from not renting. Here, MR assumes the house would still be worth $500,000 in 10 years, so you need to save $400,000 over the 10 years from the savings from not renting to be equal in 10 years. To do this, assuming a 6% return, your monthly savings over renting would have to be $2,500. This means if you currently rented for $3,500, you would need to be able to buy an equivalent house and the mortgage, property tax, maintenance etc. would have to be $1,000 a month ($2,500 less than renting). This is completely absurd and will virtually never happen.

      That is why their assumption of no house appreciation virtually always results in their analysis favoring not buying a house. They might state they aren’t biased constantly, but their comparisons are completely and utterly biased. The only time they recommend buying is when buying is CONSIDERABLY cheaper than renting, when basically anybody with half a brain would buy anyway.

  11. Read up on Andrew Hallam and his site, telling expat teachers and more how to invest. Most of the financial “firms” and advisors who work overseas are predatory and basically out to get your money. They want the big fat commission and couldn’t care less about your investments or if you go broke.

    Why pay anyone a fee or percentage when you can learn to do it yourself. A 1% difference compounded over 20-30 years can be a huge chunk lost. Tons of stories of seniors or retired people who trusted an advisor and lost their savings.

  12. I just paid off my house In 30 years! And you are right, it was a bad investment. I took out a mortgage 30 years ago.
    I paid the asking price again in property taxes and home owner insurance over the past 30 years. Paid double the asking price in interest to the bank that held the mortgage. If I keep it for another 30 years I will pay the asking price again in property taxes and homeowners insurance.

    But hey my house doubled in value YAY!!! : (

    So I’m now getting it. Invest for the long run just not in housing. If you do buy a house to raise a family save enough to pay cash for the house and make it part of your portfolio. At least I would be even after 30 years.

    Wished I had you, JLCollins, MMM and Frugalwoods 30 years ago.
    Keep preaching.

  13. There is a brand new strategy for long term portfolio allocation that is the must-do now. You buy commission-free low cost index etf EVERY time the market drops 1%. All new money would be invested only that way. The results are way better than the buy every month on the same date strategy. Just google it.

  14. That is why I am so grateful for this blog. Any time I’d ever heard of investing it was always the same “hand your money over to this person and let them know your risk tolerance and then they’ll manage your investments for you” Learning about investing was so daunting, I didn’t know how to start and I was afraid of getting scammed. I’d invested in the group RRSP program where I worked and saw very little in returns from the investing being done but since the company matched the contributions it was still worth it. Buying mutual funds at the bank looked good on paper and I haven’t lost any money but again it seems like the returns aren’t great. I’m guessing the returns are being eaten by fees. I remember 12 years ago I could put all my money in a high interest savings account and make 3%, I remember when I was in in high school ING Direct used to advertise savings accounts with 5% interest. Those days are no more so it seems like if you want a decent return you need to learn to invest by yourself. I think the last time I looked into it my savings account only paid 0.5%.

  15. To Firecraker & Wanderer, keep preaching!

    I’m so grateful for this blog, it taught me how to invest and get over my fear of opening a brokerage account. For all of us newbies in investing, this blog give us the details and the handholding to get us comfortable in investing.

    Just like in martial arts classes, the Sensie will teach you how to breath properly first before going anywhere to teaching you how to throw your opponent off.

    Keep up the good work!

  16. People love houses because you can borrow lots of money “safely”. In the real world you have to gain a skill or be more productive to increase your purchasing power. In the housing world you just sign papers to get a big pile of borrowed money. It makes people feel rich even though we know they aren’t. Explaining that its better to skip a big pile of borrowed money and spend years working, saving, and investing will always be a tough sell.

    Keep posting the truth. It is most appreciated.

  17. I do think a lot of people save but don’t invest and that’s a losing proposition in the long run. I have a few friends who are this way, they save money but a lot of it is in cash which doesn’t really get you anything in the long run.

  18. Great article! I just had a conversation with my niece last week about investing. She just graduated from university and is terrified of investing.

    I explained to her to think of it as taking an extra semester of school. If it cost you $5,000 in tuition, books and other costs to attend then take that money and start investing. Start off with some dividend paying ETF’s in your TFSA so you can learn. Its next to impossible to lose all your money investing in ETF’s plus you will learn about investments. She had her doubts but then I explained if she could tell me about the classes she took a few semesters ago and she couldn’t.

    I just never understood why educated and intelligent people are full of so much doubt. Paralysis by Analysis I guess. Just take baby steps and learn along the way.

  19. Wanderer, as a Canadian and I’m assuming you don’t have american citizenship, how do you do with your taxes in your american investments? Do you file a W-8BEN form w/ your broker and they withhold 30% tax on gains that you can claim in our Canadian tax return?
    As a non-resident of USA w/ lots of investments there I’d love to see a workshop around that. How to optimize taxes and live a FIRE life investing in the US without being a citizen.

    1. No, we didn’t need to fill out a W-8BEN form because our US-listed ETFs are held within a Canadian Brokerage. W-8BEN only applies if you have an account in a US bank.

  20. Hi Wanderer,

    Just wondering, do you have any concerns about the currency effect of investing in VUN?
    Investing in this ETF exposes the investment to changes in the US/CAD exchange rate.

    1. Of course it does. It’s an American asset, so it’s going to be subjected to American currency fluctuations. The alternative to that would be to buying a CAD-hedged version. But then you’re beating on the Canadian dollar outperforming the US dollar AND you’re increasing your MER.

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