Our 2018 Finances Part 2

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Our 2018 financial review continues after Part 1, where FIRECracker detailed our annual spending. Today, we’re going to talk about how our portfolio did, and the transactions we performed to fund next year’s living expenses.

How did it perform?

At the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, the financial media tried to sum up the overall year for stock investors. The more polite ones called it “challenging.” The less polite ones called it a cluster-fuck. And with good reason.

December was an especially wild ride, with the Dow swinging up and down 300+ points more times than I could count. On Dec 24, 2018, the Dow plunged 653 points and the S & P 500 officially entered a bear market in what the media dubbed “Worst Christmas Eve ever.” The next day, the Dow surged 1,086.25 marking its largest one-day point move ever.It was Trump, it was the China trade war, it was the Federal Reserve raising interest rates. Whatever the reason, I haven’t seen volatility like this since the Great Financial Crisis, and by the time the New Year’s Eve ball dropped in Time’s Square, stock markets officially had their worst year since 2008.

Now, I’ve been through shit like this before, so I wasn’t exactly crapping my pants or anything. But I do have to admit I was a teeny tiny bit nervous when I logged into my investment accounts at the end of December to see what the damage was.

Turns out, for the year, our portfolio was down…: -5.66%

So first of all, phew. It looks like the dire predictions of -20% bear-market losses did NOT come to fruition. It turns out the -20% number the media was throwing out was peak-to-trough over a few short months. Doing a January-to-January comparison, markets were still down but not nearly as badly as the media made it seem to be. So that’s good.

But as they say the price of (financial) freedom is eternal (financial) vigilance, so I started digging into how each piece of our portfolio was behaving in this downturn and make sure everything was doing what they were supposed to. If we were to take our boiler-plate Investment Workshop 60/40 portfolio, 2018 would have looked like this.

VABVanguard Total Bond ETF40.00%2.30%
VCNVanguard Canada All-Cap Index20.00%-10.20%
XSPiShares Core S&P 500 Index ETF20.00%-6.80%
XEFiShares Core MSCI EAFE Index16.00%-6.70%
XECiShares Core Emerging Markets Index4.00%-9.50%

So our 60/40 portfolio should have gone down a little less than 4%. Yet ours went down closer to 6%. Why?

The answer is: The Yield Shield.

Remember that when we transitioned from working to retirement, we pivoted our portfolio by investing part of it in higher-yielding but more volatile assets. We did this because when you’re retired, you care more about how much income your portfolio is throwing off rather than how much your capital value goes up/down day by day. We called this strategy the Yield Shield, and we wrote a series of posts about it here.

But as we know, this yield ain’t free. With higher yield comes higher risk, and with higher risk comes higher volatility. Here’s what our actual portfolio did in 2018.

VABVanguard Total Bond ETF10.00%2.30%
XCBiShares Corporate Bond10.00%0.60%
CPDCanadian Preferred Share Index20.00%-8.90%
VCNVanguard Canada All-Cap Index10.00%-10.20%
XDViShares Canadian Select Dividend5.00%-12.50%
XREiShares Capped REIT Index5.00%5.80%
XSPiShares Core S&P 500 Index ETF20.00%-6.80%
XEFiShares Core MSCI EAFE Index16.00%-6.70%
XECiShares Core Emerging Markets Index4.00%-9.50%

So we are actually seeing our portfolio swing around more wildly than it should. In fact, I’d estimate that in terms of volatility it’s actually behaving more like a 75/25 or an 80/20 portfolio rather than a 60/40.

So why did we do this?

How Yield Performs in a Downturn

Here’s the thing about Yield. When we first built our Yield Shield in 2015, we were getting a total portfolio yield of about 3.5%, or about $35,000 of our original $1,000,000 portfolio. Over the past few years as stock markets have rampaged ahead, if you were to buy those same ETFs that we bought (Preferreds, Corporate bonds, etc.) you might only get a yield of 3.2%, or maybe 3%, and people have been asking us “What gives? You said 3.5%!”

Under the hood, each ETF is holding a whole bunch of individual bonds, preferred shares, or common shares depending on what the ETF is about, and all those assets are paying shareholders some amount of money per share, either as interest (for bonds) or as dividends (for preferreds or stocks). So a unit of an ETF might be paying you say $0.1 per share every month based on whatever the underlying assets are paying.

The confusing part is that the payout doesn’t change based on the day-to-day fluctuations of the ETF’s price. So for that imaginary ETF paying $0.1 per share a month, or $1.20 per share a year, if you managed to buy that unit at $24 then you’re making 1.20 / 24 = 5% yield on that ETF!

But if the stock market is on fire that day and the price of that ETF went up right before you bought it, you’re not going to make 5%. That ETF is still paying $1.20 per unit no matter what it’s market price is, so if your friend bought that same ETF a month later at $30, then they’re only going to be making 1.2 / 30 = 4% on their money. And they’re going to look at your yield and say “hey, what gives? It’s the exact same ETF! Why are you making 5% while I’m only making 4%?”

Remember: This is because the payout doesn’t change based on the day-to-day fluctuation of the ETF’s price. So the yield you get gets locked in the moment that you buy. And while that may seem a little counter-intuitive, it’s also what makes yield so damn useful to retirees.

The payout doesn’t change based on the day-to-day fluctuations of the ETF’s price. That means that even if that ETF’s price were to soar to $40, or plummet to $10, our shareholders would still be making $1.20 per share. They essentially don’t care about what the market does anymore, they’ll still get paid the same every year no matter what happens.

So let’s see how our portfolio’s Yield Shield is doing, and make sure it’s still intact.

First, I went to each ETF’s info page where each company reports a forward-looking yield, which is essentially what it’s currently paying divided by it’s current share price. We will add this column to our handy little table.

VABVanguard Total Bond ETF10.00%2.30%2.88%
XCBiShares Corporate Bond10.00%0.60%3.19%
CPDCanadian Preferred Share Index20.00%-8.90%4.68%
VCNVanguard Canada All-Cap Index10.00%-10.20%2.88%
XDViShares Canadian Select Dividend5.00%-12.50%5.98%
XREiShares Capped REIT Index5.00%5.80%4.94%
XSPiShares Core S&P 500 Index ETF20.00%-6.80%2.04%
XEFiShares Core MSCI EAFE Index16.00%-6.70%2.83%
XECiShares Core Emerging Markets Index4.00%-9.50%4.39%

So our overall portfolio yield looks like it’s 3.41%. We will then multiply that by our current portfolio value. At the end of December 2018, our portfolio was worth $1,069,000, and after removing $35,000 in yield for 2019 expenses, we are left with a portfolio value of $1,034,000.

In December 2019, to project our yield for 2020 expenses, we will multiply this number by our projected portfolio yield to get…

1,034,000 x 3.41% = $35,259.40

$35k. Just as we were expecting. The Yield Shield has held up and we go into 2019 happy and certain that no matter how badly the market crashes, we will still make $35k in cold hard cash without having to sell a single thing.

That’s why a Yield Shield (combined with a Cash Cushion) is so powerful after you’re retired. It allows you to create a stable, predictable income stream out of something that’s fundamentally unstable and unpredictable (the stock market). And that’s why even thought the markets plummeted this year, and our own portfolio took a dive, we don’t care. We’re still gonna get paid.

Our Portfolio Transactions

So in late December, after we did all this spreadsheet crunching and realized, with some degree of relief, our portfolio was holding up, our Yield Shield was still strong and healthy, and that everything was working exactly the way it should be, it was time to perform some year-end buys and sells. So I thought it would be interesting to all of y’all to reveal exactly what we did and why.

Here we go!

RRSP Withdrawals

Now normally, December is when I would do my RRSP withdrawals. To the Americans, an RRSP withdrawal is the equivalent of doing a 401(k) conversion as part of a 5-year Roth IRA Ladder Conversion strategy.

My general strategy after retirement is to use our personal exemption room of $12k each to melt down both of our RRSPs. This gets added as taxable income, but as long as I keep my withdrawals limited to $12k each, we can get our money out of our tax deferred accounts tax-free!

Well, that’s not happening this year. Because we made too much side hustle income.

I know, I know. Crocodile tears. When we made Millennial-Revolution.com, neither of us was expecting this thing to become a financially profitable side hustle, and it was even more unlikely that we ended up getting a book published with Penguin this year!

My RRSP withdrawal strategy assumed we would be making no money after retirement, so once that assumption went out the window, the goal of our RRSP withdrawals changed from “pay no tax” to “pay as little tax as you can.” And fortunately/unfortunately this year, the combination of our blog income and part of our book advance being paid out was so high it actually pushed us into a higher tax bracket.

I know, I know. Tiny sad violin. FIRECracker will talk more about our side hustle income in Part 3, but long story short is we’ve decided to skip our RRSP withdrawals this year. Since book advances don’t get paid every year, we’re expecting our income to be lower in 2019 than in 2018, we think it makes more sense to do our RRSP withdrawal next December.

Harvesting our Yield

However, something we do have to do is harvest the yield from our portfolio. Remember, the portfolio yield comes from all the ETFs paying out income in the form of dividends or interest throughout the year, and that income gets accumulated as cash sitting in each account. The challenge comes from the fact that some of this cash got accumulated in our RRSPs, which we can’t easily access unless we do an RRSP withdrawal. And since we’ve decided to skip our RRSP withdrawals this year, how do we harvest that cash?

Fortunately, we do have a way. We call it a Cash Asset Swap. We’ve written about this before, but basically a Cash Asset Swap is a technique where you do matched buy/sell transactions between two accounts to swap cash inside one account for ETFs in another. Say you have a situation like this.

You have $5000 of cash inside an RRSP that you can’t get access to. At the same time, you have 500 units of an ETF at a price of $10 per share in your investment account that you wouldn’t mind living inside your RRSP. So you issue a BUY order in your RRSP to buy 500 units of that ETF. Simultaneously, you issue a SELL order for 500 units of that ETF in your investment account.

If you do them quickly enough, the stock market will match up those orders at the same price and will perform the exchange for you, and you’ll be left with this situation.

Voila! Your cash is now accessible, your portfolio makeup hasn’t changed, and you haven’t triggered a taxable event by withdrawing from your RRSP. However, note that selling the ETF in your investment account may trigger a capital gain/loss, so I like to pick ETFs with a relatively small unrealized capital gain/loss to minimize the tax implications.

This also works for Americans, by the way, to access cash in your 401(k) by swapping in ETFs from your investment account without doing a taxable withdrawal/IRA conversion.

RRSP Cash Asset Swap

OK so in December, the Yield Shield cash that got generated over the year was scattered throughout our portfolio something like this.

Again, the numbers in the box is just the Yield Shield cash. The total balances of each account aren’t shown here because they’re not relevant to what we’re trying to do.

So what we did was we performed 4 Cash Asset Swaps between our 4 RRSP accounts and our investment account.

For historical reasons, part of our S&P 500 holdings are denominated in USD, using the ETF SPY. This is the ETF we chose to swap into our RRSPs, since NYSE-traded ETFs have favourable tax status when held inside an RRSP (specifically, no foreign withholding taxes apply).

Conveniently, SPY was trading at around $250 per unit that day, so our orders looked something like this:

  • Wanderer’s RRSP: BUY 24 SPY (24 x $250 = $6000)
  • FIRECracker’s RRSP: BUY 12 SPY (12 x $250 = $3000)
  • FIRECracker’s Spousal RRSP: BUY 2 SPY (2 x $250 = $500)
  • FIRECracker’s LIRA: BUY 2 SPY (2 x $250 = $500)
  • Joint Investment Account: SELL 40 SPY (40 x $250 = $10000)

And since we’re using Questrade, ETF buys are free, while sells are just $5. So in total, we paid around $5 in commission to do this! And because our buy/sell orders are perfectly matched (BUY 40 SPY, SELL 40 SPY), our portfolio hasn’t actually changed at all.

After all this was over, our portfolio’s cash balances now looked like this.

TFSA Withdrawal

Getting money out of our TFSA was much simpler: we simply withdrew the cash. For Americans, this is the equivalent of just making a Roth IRA withdrawal. Remember that contributions can always be withdrawn tax-free, so as long as you haven’t withdrawn more than you’ve put in over the years, you don’t have to worry about any tax or age-based penalties.

After our withdrawals were done, our portfolio looked like this.

All our Yield Shield cash is now gathered in one place, and is ready to be harvested!

Now remember, any amount you withdraw from a TFSA gets added back the next year along with your new TFSA contribution room, so we’re planning on re-contributing the amount we withdrew in the form of an in-kind ETF transfer in the new year, but that’s a topic for another article as this one’s already getting pretty long.

This generally doesn’t apply to Americans, unfortunately. Once you make a withdrawal, that contribution room is gone 🙁

Funding 2018

Finally, we complete our Yield Shield Harvest. In 2019, we are projecting our living expenses to be again $40,000. Despite being our 4th year of retirement, inflation hasn’t really affected us at all, and a big part of that is Geographic arbitrage. In fact, since we’re planning on spending more time in SE Asia, I suspect our yearly expenses will actually DROP, but to be conservative let’s stick with the $40,000 number.

Our Yield Shield will provide $35,000 of that amount. Now normally in an up year, we’d realize $5,000 of capital gains to make up the shortfall, but because this is a down year we’ve decided to use up one of the years of our Cash Cushion, like so.

And now our 2019 Expenses are fully funded and ready to go!

This will bring our Cash Cushion down to $10,000, or 2 years worth, but given that I really don’t think this stock market “crash” will last all that long, I’m comfortable doing that and waiting for the rebound. And as always, if our Cash Cushion runs out and we’re forced to live on just the Yield Shield alone, we can easily do that by spending a year in a low-cost zone like SE Asia. After all, If Shit Hits The Fan, We’re Moving to Thailand!

And We’re Done

Phew! What an update THAT was.

I’m not gonna lie, it was a LOT of work to put this post together, but I think it’s important for you in the interest of transparency. Last year, we realized that our various side hustles (blog, books, etc.) started generating a non-trivial amount of money, and we consciously made the decision to segregate the money we made post-retirement into it’s own seperate portfolio named Portfolio B, and to continue living off only our original retirement portfolio, named Portfolio A. We did this to preserve the purity of our retirement experiment and show that yes, this early retirement math does in fact work with or without blog income.

So that’s it for Part 2 of our 2018 Financial Update. Check out Part 1 if you missed it where FIRECracker broke down how much we spent for the year, and stay tuned for Part 3, where we’ll talk about how much post-retirement side-hustle income we made in 2018, and what we’re planning on doing with it.

Questions? Comments? Let’s hear it below!

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71 thoughts on “Our 2018 Finances Part 2”

  1. Great post like always!

    I am lost on how you did the Cash Asset Swap. For e.g for Wanderer’s RRSP: It’s has $6000 yeild shield and you bought 24 SPY (24 x $250 = $6000). So when you buy these ETF’s it’s still in your RRSP account how would it get transferred to the individual investment account ?

  2. “And that’s why even thought the markets plummeted this year, and our own portfolio took a dive, we don’t care. We’re still gonna get paid.”

    This is a pretty powerful (and tempting) approach for FIRE. I also hear dividend investors take a similar view on their investment strategy, and I like the framing of the approach as one of income (we’ve got to get paid) rather than of growth. Our asset allocation has 25% bonds and the stock portion certainly pays out some dividends, but we’re probably rocking something more like a 2% or 2.5% annual income portion rather than 3.5%, so our strategy will still rely on harvesting some gains, for better or worse.

    Here’s to hoping 2019 is a good one. Have a good year, friends!

  3. Pure gold of a post. I appreciate the effort it must take to write it, but for those of us just starting to figure out this self-managed finance thing, it’s invaluable. Thank you for your hard work!

  4. Thank you for your transparency. It took me a few minutes to wrap my head around your “swap”. You aren’t really moving anything between your various accounts, you are just concurrently changing your asset allocation within each of your accounts. I can’t recall ever reading about this strategy elsewhere; I’ve certainly never seen it so clearly graphically illustrated. Thank you! It is a brilliant way to obtain the cash needed for annual living expenses while still maintaining your desired overall asset allocation. The only sticky wicket would be if you had a very limited selection of funds available within your 401(k), and could not match up with any of the funds available in your taxable account. Although that issue would be solved through an IRA Rollover. Duh. Thanks again for spelling this out so clearly.

    1. I also haven’t heard this strategy anywhere else, which suggests that I came up with something entirely brand-new!

      Cash-Asset Swap. Patent pending, bitches!

  5. Thanks for all the work you put into this article Wanderer. I like that you both always makes things so easy to understand. I had wondered about how dividends were affected as ETF prices rise and fall, I knew interest stayed the same as when you bought in but I wasn’t sure about dividends but this post explained it.

    1. It’s pretty much the same, except technically dividends actually increase over time as companies make more money. So in many ways, dividends are actually better than interest when it comes to the Yield Shield.

  6. Great post – you do a good job of illustrating how yields are a result of the relationship between asset prices and coupons/dividends/etc. This is something that trips a lot of people up and I think what you’ve done here is going to help some readers understand it better than they otherwise would have.

    1. I hope so. So many people emailed us in a panic when the stock markets were crashing, so I hope this Yield Shield stuff helps bring some clarity to the noise.

  7. Amazing – thank you so much for sharing and for the visuals. They really help me wrap my head around how you’re moving money around. I’m actually planning to do the same ‘swap’ with my tax-advantaged dividends and wasn’t sure if I had just made up something crazy 🙂 – good to know that’s not the case! Thank you so much for all you do and your transparency. It’s really helpful and inspirational. Looking forward to hearing about side hustle income in Part 3!

  8. Great post! It really helps to have the visual diagrams that show the various buckets of money and directional arrows to show where the money is coming/going. Thank you!

  9. Yup, dividends and interest is how we pay for our lifestyle too. It’s way more stable than relying on the stock market to provide regular returns, and I sleep WAY better at night knowing that the dividend income is going to come in rain or shine.

    1. ” the dividend income is going to come in rain or shine. ”


      My friend, don’t be so sure.

      When it really “rains,” some companies can and do cut dividends, or even maybe stop issuing them entirely.

      1. Prior to the financial crisis, the biggest dividend payers were the financials, and many of those dividends were cut to 0 for years. And many of the financial stocks never recovered.

      2. OK, feel free to be a Negative Nancy. Sure, I saw a few dividend cuts during the Great Recession, but it was hardly something to lose sleep over.

        The ones I care about have all increased and surpassed the levels of those days.

        This is the power of a diversified portfolio and a decent cash cushion… but if you’d like to keep heckling from the sidelines it doesn’t bother me.

        1. Which stocks make up your portfolio? I’d love to see it and have the chance to duplicate it if it makes sense to me, but you mostly just write about how well it’s doing.

  10. the decision to segregate the money we made post-retirement into it’s own seperate portfolio named Portfolio B, and to continue living off only our original retirement portfolio, named Portfolio A. We did this to preserve the purity of our retirement experiment and show that yes, this early retirement math does in fact work with or without blog income.


    I wonder whether you have the plan to do a segregation of your expenses as well. For example, let your Portfolio A supply $40000, and Portfolio B supply another $40000, for a total of $80000 in yearly expenses, since you can afford to do that now with your extra income streams.

    1. Why would they inflate their lifestyle by 100% simply because they can afford to do that now with their extra income streams? From the outside looking in, it appears they are living their desired, wondrous kick-A lifestyle as it is. I thought one of the principles of FIRE was to avoid lifestyle inflation like the plague? Just because you can afford to do something doesn’t mean you should do that thing.

  11. i own 3 different preferred stock etf’s and the payouts went down on them over the past couple of years. the asset prices went down along with the payout cuts. i just thought readers should know this could happen as preferred shares could be called or be otherwise retired. one of those etf’s (SPFF) just raised the payout at the beginning of ’19 so i’m guessing and hoping the others follow. nice post.

  12. This such a great article Wanderer that I’ve been looking forward to reading. The visuals definitely help going through it. Well done!

    I have a comment about dividends payouts. You said: “[…] even if that ETF’s price were to soar to $40, or plummet to $10, our shareholders would still be making $1.20 per share.”.
    My question: How do you know with high degree of certainty that the dividend for this ETF won’t get reduced through the year (or for the following years)? I though that company can revise their ETF payout if they want so, can’t they?

    1. Most of our Yield Shield is coming from bonds and preferred shares. If those companies were to reduce their payments, that would be a default on their books, and that would greatly restrict their ability to raise money in the future. So they really REALLY don’t want to do that…

  13. I remember reading in an previous post that you and firecracker treat your investment as one big portfolio. So that being said would it be common for you two to hold the same EFT in multiple accounts. So say EFT SPY in your RRSP TFSA and maybe firecrackers RRSP? If so is there any reasoning either way? Would better for my wife and I to have the same ETFS in our RRSP or would we try and pick different ETFs that are ecentily the same ie VAB and ZAG? (I know they are not the same its just an example)

    1. I pay a lot of attention to which ETFs are in RRSPs/TFSAs, but I don’t pay any attention to which ETFs are in my RRSP vs her RRSP. From my perspective, it’s all just one giant account.

      I guess it only matters in a divorce situation, but I’m not planning on going down that path.

  14. Just a quick question; the investment account, the green box below the four blue ones; where is that account? I suppose it is not registered, but to do the swap as you do, is there something special about that account?

    Thanks for everything you both have contributed here, I’ll be buying your book for my kids. I only wish I had learned about this twenty years ago.

      1. haha, good attitude!! its only money!!!

        and the ‘dont open the account while the market is correcting’ is a great idea!! who wants to see a sea of red!! hear ya!

  15. Have you considered bumping the Yield Shield to 40k and leaving the portfolio in cruise control? Pro/Con?

    Your “cash swap” method works up until your non RRSP account runs dry. How many times do you estimate you can pull this trick?

    What kind of account are you using to keep your yearly cash?

    1. I can’t comfortably get to $40k without investing in some seriously risky assets. So 3.5% is as high as I’m willing to go.

      And my cash swap method works indefinitley because NORMALLY I do RRSP withdrawals on top of the cash swaps. This year was different, but that won’t be every year.

      And I keep my yearly cash in a HISA. Simplii, Tangerine, EQ Bank, those guys.

      1. Follow-up question on the cash-swap: You need to have the same investments in your RRSP and your non-registered account in order to do a ‘perfect’ cash swap (perfect meaning your total portfolio looks exactly the same after the swap). However, when you design your portfolio in the early days, one would usually put the lowest-taxed investments in an non-registered account (eligible dividends for example) but the worst taxed one in a TFSA/RRSP (interest, foreign dividends, capital-gains), usually ending with different assets in the RRSP vs. the non-registered account.

        Did you pre-design your RRSP and non-registered accounts to have similar ETFs in order to be able to do a cash-swap? If not, how did you end up with similar assets in both?

        And I`ll add my voice to the choir of readers thanking you for an amazing job in teaching and illustrating how the nuts-and-bolts work. Too many FI blogs will talk at the higher level but not go down to the numbers. It is awesome that you guys do. There is real value in running through a real life example and I absolutely credit most of my understanding of how to do things to this blog moreso than other blogs I read.

  16. You may be able to earn much higher yield if you manage your investment on your own, because investing into ETFs, mutual funds, etc types of managed funds really cut into the overall yield because they will charge you for management fee, brokerage fee (whenever they rebalance), and some other fees. If you manage your fund on your own, then you don’t need to pay for all these 3rd-party fees. Managing your own fund has its pros and cons. The pros is you have higher control, higher yield, less costs, and higher customization (like having more allocation to less popular stocks but have consistent market-beating yield almost every year vs over diversification to the point of being less than average in the case of managed funds due to regulatory requirement to diversify). The cons is you need to be very savvy in investment including having good business sense, savvy in financial metrics (dupont analysis, altman z-score, 1-year rolling return, etc), and portfolio management. The knowledge involved is all publicly available, depending on where you look, and you do not need CFA for the job. But once you have gained all these knowledge, everything becomes easy again because the learning curve flattens and your portfolio may very likely outperform managed funds over time and without all the fees.

  17. First of all Wish you a happy and prosperous New year 2019. Thank you for the transparency and detailed breakdown with visuals.
    Though i have not reached the FIRE yet, but would love to get prepared for higher yield ETFs and understand withdrawals more. Please clarify the below when you get a chance

    1>I am currently holding your workshop portfolio (VAB/VCN/VUN/XEC/XEF). I have realized your portfolio replaced VUN with XSP iShares Core S&P 500 Index ETF.
    I cannot recollect if you have written before or mentioned this change, but could you please explain the reason for that?

    2>Cash Swaping, understood but dumb question, while placing the matching order one by one..do you use a “Limit” order or “Market” order? i am not sure if market order will wait until the rest of the orders are placed and matched to perform the swap…

    Btw, SE Asia is the best, last few weeks i traveled thru Indonesia, Thailand and india (bit expensive though). Sadly vacation time is up and flying back to toronto to experience the chill again 🙂

    1. 1) I actually like VUN over XSP. My personal portfolio still has some XSP in it, but over time I’ve soured to the idea of CAD-hedging and am planning on moving my XSP holdings over to VUN.

      2) Not a dumb question at all. I used to do these swaps using limit orders but realized it’s just too much damned trouble. Use market orders. That’s what I do now.

  18. Do you think you can earn a cool million online as a side hustle millionaire from affiliate marketing alone and not resort to investing? Your thoughts on this? 🙂

  19. Curious about your portfolio makeup. Any thoughts on a low volatility ETF for Canadian, U.S. and International Developed markets equity component? Maybe hold 25% of the total in each of the categories (i.e. XSP = 20% of your portfolio. Instead, have 15% XSP and 5% low volatility equivalent such as ZLU). Would that be a waste of time or have some value? Looked like low volatility did really well in the last quarter of 2018 compared to the regular equivalent ETF when volatility kicked in.

    1. Low-Vol does well when indexes are plummeting, and then underperforms when the indes is soaring.

      I don’t mess around with Low-Vol. You have no know when you get in AND get out. So that’s just market-timing, in my view.

      1. The one thing I did notice though is that when comparing ZLB versus VCN, ZLB appears to have consistently outperformed VCN. On a longer term basis, XIC is a better comparison than VCN as it has a much earlier inception date. The longer the timeline, the better ZLB looks. Just an observation.

  20. Really interesting. I have read your yield shield a few times and remain to be convinced. However, contributing to my scepticism is the strange situation in the UK where our main index dividend yield is circa 4.5% and bond and property yields are much smaller.

  21. Love the fact that you both have carved your own path in life. Breaking the 9 to 5 mould and the nasty high stress, boredom and ill effects that way of living brings on. I wish you both continued success in this journey 🙂 Your both an inspiration to have the courage to think outside the box!
    I wonder if this way of living will become boring to you both in the future. Everything eventually becomes a routine and that can get old. Have you thought about what you both will do once you are tired of travelling around? Where will you call home? Do you want to have children and grandchildren down the road? Where and who will you carve that turkey with on Christmas day?

    Thank you for sharing your tips and journey and your story might very well be a saving grace for someone who is on the brink of despair. Happy travels!

  22. I see you use VAB and CXB for the Corporate Bonds which provide a little higher dividend. But VAB holds 30% Corporate as well. Why not just used XCB and a 5 laddered government bond ETF since there is overlap between the other two funds?

  23. Thanks so much for yet again a great post!

    Just curious, if you both were to move to Thailand, that may mean Chautauqua could be in SE Asia then? More affordable to some of us perhaps? 😀 Best in 2019!

  24. Hi,

    Thanks for the interesting post. Just wondering about the asset swap. Can I buy and sell a market value $10 stock with a limit $5 buy/sell. Will they should go through?

  25. Great info and transparency once again! Thank you

    Can you comment on the idea of using a single ETF such as XAW for equities versus buying XSP, VEE and VEF for example? From what I’m reading lately many folks are leaning towards the one stop ETF. Cheers

  26. Thanks for sharing this Bryce. Clearly a ton of work went into this post and I appreciate the transparency you and Kristy always have.

    Do you mind sharing with the community how you guys settled on those particular ‘higher yield’ ETFs for your fixed income portion? (i.e. any resources that you found particularly useful when doing your research). I’m specifically referring to the CPD, XDV, XRE that you hold in your portfolio.

    (sorry if you actually wrote a post about it and I missed it)


  27. Great post ! Thanks for that !
    I also live in Canada and I’m porsuing I kind of similar path through FI, however, I thought that leaving the country for more than 6 months / year would have tax consequences like loosing the right of keeping your RRSP / TFSA accounts. Can you comment on that ?

  28. Just a quick question, I plan on retiring at the end of 2023 and will be pulling my funds and everything in January 2024 for the year. Does this present any differences or challenges that pulling the money id December like you do? Great site, I’ve been eating up your articles for the last few months and I’m finally catching up. LOL

  29. I look back at this post often. I hope that you do a similar one for the end of 2019. It is super helpful to see how you guys glean the funds from your accounts and I’m curious to see if you top up your yield shield with the gains we have had this year.

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