Here’s To the Blog Dogs

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Photo by Eli Duke @ Flickr.
Photo by Eli Duke @ Flickr.

“Seriously, you should write about this. People need to know what you did,” he said.

We were sitting in the downtown office of one Garth Turner, best-selling author and creator of the ultra-popular blog Greater Fool. He reached over, picking up the bottle of champagne on the conference table and motioning towards our empty glasses. I forget the year, but I remembered the name on the bottle. Victoire. Very fitting.

My wife stifled a chuckle. “And have your Blog Dogs jump down our throats like last time? Yeah, thanks but no thanks.”

The year was 2012. Miley Cyrus was still a wholesome family-friendly entertainer, Jon Stewart was the most trusted newscaster in America, and we were collectively laughing at the US presidential race about that one time Mitt Romney made a sexist remark by referring to “binders of women” on national TV (Good GOD, was that a simpler time).

We wrote into Garth’s blog about how we were frustrated with the housing market, how we had saved $500,000 and how we were trying to figure out if there was something more interesting we could do with that money rather than just blow it on a house like everyone else. As a result, we caused a minor riot among his readers (whom he affectionally calls the Blog Dogs for some reason). Within hours, over 200 entries had clogged his comment section. Some were supportive, some were curious, but most were attacking us. A Millennial? With MONEY? There was NO way that could happen, so we must have been filthy stinking liars.

Image by Nina Paley @
Image by Nina Paley @


We ended up meeting in person soon afterwards, a unique club whose members have all been accused of being “FULL OF SH*T” by the Internet. Little did we know, that meeting would end up fitting an important piece of our money puzzle together.

Like most naïve Millennials, we had assumed that the best thing to do to become financially responsible adults was to walk into a bank and find someone to invest our retirement accounts for us. What we found just made us throw up. One after another, the big banks just paraded out Gordon Gekko clones, with their slick-backed hair, thousand-dollar suits, and absolutely ZERO knowledge. Not one of them could withstand even basic questioning.

  • How are you getting paid?
  • How do I know you’re working in my best interest?
  • Why do you think you can beat the market?

All we got was bullshit, bullshit, BULLSHIT. Not one of their answers could stand up to even a basic Google search. And these are the people we’re expected to hand over our life savings to?

Garth was different. Turns out he’s not only a blogger and best-selling author, he was also a financial advisor. And he was the only one who could invest in a way that Millennials like us could trust. No individual stocks that were picked by a proprietary system they couldn’t explain. No crazy options strategies that treated the stock market like a casino. Just a simple, easy-to-understand portfolio of low-cost ETFs that doesn’t try to beat the market, but just match the indexes. No attempts to day-trade and make a quick buck, just buy-and-hold, with periodic rebalancing that removed emotion from the equation. And he understood and even embraced our demand that we don’t own anything whose complexity can’t be explained to a six year old.

Fast forward to 2015. Three years later, we were 31, sipping champagne in his office and our portfolio balance was projecting in big, bold letters on the wall. We were millionaires.

“So,” the Great Bearded One said. “You two are now 1%-ers. How does it feel?”

We both shuddered at the thought. 1%-ers? Us? Everyone HATES 1%-ers.

Garth chuckled, sensing our discomfort. “I hope you reconsider, though. You know, about writing about what you accomplished. I can lecture people on my blog, but you two could do something way better. You’re inspiring.”

Inspiring? Us? Yeah, whatever.

So we thanked him, left his office, and promptly handed in resignation letters to our respective workplaces. A few months after that, we had sold our belongings, handed our keys to our landlord, and boarded a plane. In our back pockets were tickets to LA, New York, Boston, London, Amsterdam, and about a dozen more cities across the globe. A trip around the world to celebrate our newfound freedom.

And then something strange happened. In our travels, we met so many people. Millennials, just like us, who were confused by the conflicting voices pulling them in opposite directions. Don’t rent! Renting is for losers! Yet housing is no longer affordable. Be loyal to your company? Why should we when they have no intention of being loyal to us?

And the Mainstream Media isn’t helping. In fact, quite the opposite.

Here’s an article on CNN about how Millennials simply don’t have the ability to work hard.

Here’s an article from The Globe and Mail about how Millennials are being forced into buying overpriced houses we can’t afford.

And here’s a recent email to Garth’s blog from a fellow Millennial with no fucking clue of what to do:

In less than 5 months prices have skyrocketed off the charts. We are at peak insanity. We aren’t even that close to Vancouver (almost 1 hour drive downtown with traffic, maybe 40 minutes if you are lucky). What is going on… can you please let me know.. something is not right.

And that’s when I realized the problem. Our generation, the Millennials, are naturally distrustful. We’ve been lied to too many times. A university degree will guarantee you a good job. Houses always go up. Company loyalty always pays off. What bullshit.

So when one of us actually finds a path to riches and freedom, we hide. Because we’re afraid of being hated. Millennials with Money is simply not a popular club to be in.

But here’s what we realized: If we don’t speak up, if we don’t talk about how we managed to pull off what we pulled off, then our generation is screwed. The Millennials will be left spinning, aimless, and the only voices left will be from the people telling us we suck. The ones that yell at us while providing no solution.

So when we flew back to Toronto, we met up with the Great Bearded One.

“Garth, you were right,” we told him.

His response: “Thanks, but about what?”

“We need to talk about what we did. And if we get haters, we get haters. This is bigger than us.”

Because if we don’t tell people what we did, and teach people how to do it themselves, then our generaton will continue to wander aimlessly, while the Boomers will continue to call us “greedy, self-absorbed and wasteful little shits.

Because we are NOT greedy, self-absorbed, or wasteful. We Millennials are educated, socially-conscious, and environmentally-friendly little shits and don’t you god-damned forget it.

But I would like to say one thing. To any Blog Dogs that are reading this: we are sorry. Three years ago, when you hammered us with questions on how we did what we did, we withdrew and hid. We’re not proud of it, and if we could do it again, we would have done it differently.

So here’s our chance to make amends.

Blog Dogs, if you’re reading this, let us have it in the comments. Don’t hold back. It’ll be like old times.

Only this time, we won’t shy away. We won’t hide. Quite the opposite, actually. We want to start a movement. Because this is bigger than us.

Ask us anything. This time, on this blog, we will answer every question you throw at us.

So let us have it.

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66 thoughts on “Here’s To the Blog Dogs”

  1. First off congratulations on the accomplishment. You exemplify what investing in a low-cost diversified portfolio is all about! I’m supposed to be working on a graduate degree assignment but tuned into for a quick break and wound up here.

    Just outta curiosity did you have any student loans when you completed your undergrad? I was always a bit envious of those who had help from their parents as it was a bit daunting starting my career with $20k in debt.

    Also, are you comfortable sharing what your approximate household income was upon graduation vs. the years before retirement? Accumulating half a million in wealth in very impressive for anyone your age but it seems damn near impossible these days without a little help.

    Thanks again.

    1. Hi Shawn,

      Thank you! To answer your question, no, we didn’t have any student loans. Why? Two words: Waterloo Co-op. The engineering program at Waterloo allowed us to work during school, and as a result, we didn’t have any debt when we graduated, and we didn’t need any help from our parents.

      And yes, we will do a breakdown of our household income and wealth accumulation in a future post.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Good for you folks!!!!

    You figured out the BS Corporations/politicians/education system/financial/media spew at us daily.

    As a 58 yr old boomer, Grade 9 graduate, who is also a 1%er I applaud your ability to cut through the fog, Follow your hearts, engage your brain. Not fall into the mythology of the generation ahead of you………

    Brings back memories of my 20s when it seemed I was the only one in my peer group making sacrifices and learning to create the foundation for financial security (which allows me the freedom to LIVE on my terms:-)

    I hope you are able to convince your cohorts or at least start the long overdue discussion.

    You have a great future ahead of you!

    1. Hi Rainclouds!

      Thank you so much for the kind words. After the flaming on Garth’s blog, we’re not sure if the Millennials want our help, but we’ll keep trying.

  3. Congratulations on what you have achieved.

    I would love to share what you did and achieve with my millennial friends but can you guys clarify a few things.

    Did you and your spouse had any debt at all during the first 500K? If you did, how much was your debt?
    How much was your combined income roughly? How much of it went towards investment?
    Did you guys live with parents? Did you guys pay rent during that period?

    Just in case you are wondering, I am a millennial too, with some wealth but honestly I did not create those wealth, my parents did and they passed in on to me. I find it really hard to build wealth in this environment especially if saddled with a massive loan.

    1. Hi jhobo,

      Thank you for stopping by, and sure, we’d love to clarify those things for you:

      Did you and your spouse had any debt at all during the first 500K? If you did, how much was your debt?
      – No, we didn’t have any debt. The Engineer Co-op program at Waterloo enabled us to work through university, so we didn’t have any loans or help from our parents.

      How much was your combined income roughly?
      -We started with a combined salary of $135K. We’ll do a detailed breakdown of our wealth accumulation in a future post.

      How much of it went towards investment?
      -Throughout the 9 years we worked, we saved 70-75% of our salary. We started investing with Garth in 2012.

      Did you guys live with parents? Did you guys pay rent during that period?
      – No, we didn’t live with parents. We rented.

  4. How much did you save to be able to retire? I wouldn’t do it until I reached at least 2 million… By my projections, I will have to work until 40, so good for you guys to do it 10 years earlier!

    1. Hi Retireat40,

      Slightly over a million. It’s working out well. In fact, when we were in Thailand, we found the cost of living is so low, you can actually do it on even less.

      If you don’t mind me asking, why do you think you need at least 2 million? Maybe we can help dispel some misinformation to help you get there faster.

      1. Well, I have almost a mil invested (no real estate, thanks to Garth… lol), so that generates some cashflow, but I still need to pay rent, food, and since I have a little kid, I’m not as mobile as you, as the little guy needs to go to school.

        The 2 mil figure is just gut feeling, I think I could stop working right now, but it just feels weird, and not safe enough! 🙂

        1. First of all, congrats on NOT buying into the real estate frenzy and the cool almost mill in the bank! No matter what happens, I suspect you’ll do just fine 🙂
          That being said, if you’re comfortable, I invite you to write in so we can break down the math and see when you can actually retire. I bet it’s actually closer than you think.

        2. This was a question I had too: how this works when you have children? One child or 4 kids!! Rentals for big families are expensive! More than a mortgage payment on a house!? Travelling with big families is also expensive! I am in love with the idea of the tiny house movement also but don’t think they work well for more than one person realistically!?

  5. Congratulations to you! Very informative and inspiring stuff. I might add, quite noble of you to open up about your financial success to assist others! Impressive. My two daughters, ages 16 and 12, will be parked in front of your website today. Let the revolution begin!

    1. Thank you, Dan! After the flaming on Garth’s blog in 2012, we were pretty hesitant to write our story. But if sharing it helps our fellow Millennials, then it’s worth it. And comments like yours really encourages us to keep going.

  6. Hey Guys-
    Great Site! Great message, and most of all awesome accomplishment! Took us to age 61 to do what you did at 31.
    Retired now, we do whatever we want. No Debts.

    Try not to be too hard on Boomer parents, they are only telling their kids what worked for their time. It is a NEW time, and new problems, demand new solutions. It’s not the 70’s now…

    The 4% rule works. When we retired (60 and 62) we found we had pension & social security money we hadn’t factored in, decreasing the need for 4% and knocking back to a mere 2% withdrawal. We do have to shift some 401-K (RRSP in Canada) to our ROTH (your TFSA) and pay the taxes on it before mandatory withdrawals kick in at age 70 or, it will put us in a higher tax bracket.

    Yeah, first world problems, right? (Math says about $740,000 in US 401-K is tops before you hit next tax bracket)

    Now, if I could convince our son (41) not to be a total loser, I would feel complete. Some don’t get it, won’t get it.

    Again congrats – and have a Ball doing life your way!

    Boom! (one of the Blog Dawg regulars)

    1. YES! Thank you. The reason why we’re frustrated with Boomers is that MOST Boomers aren’t like you, and they DON’T realize the world has changed. It’s their way or the highway.

      I do realize that I may be too hard on Boomers, the same way they are being hard on us. So please don’t be too hard on your son. My parents also call me “loser” and “waste of space” all the time and it doesn’t help our relationship.


        I’ll try to be easier on the kid. He’s our only one. I just want the best for him, and he doesn’t verbalize his “wants” to me. Hard to read into that. No, I don’t advocate a house, or any consumption products. We have enough “junk” here for a couple lifetimes. I do advocate growing one’s investments though. Is that such a bad wish, that way he CAN be independent in his own time, and space.

        Kids – where DID the instruction manuals go?

  7. Can you talk about the steps you took to save that much? What we your incomes and how much did you guys put away? How much of that $500k was funded by you and how much of it was through gains?

    1. This is a mistake people often make if they just look at the housing price but ignore all the extra costs of owning it (maintenance, utilities, etc.), the transaction costs of selling it, and the whole “Now I need a car. Now I need a dining room set.” thing that turns a house into a money sink. We wrote a bit about that here.

      1. True often but not always – that is within the control of the buyers. Just as you say that not all millennials are lazy, not all homeowners are incapable of deferred satisfaction. Yes, ironically when we bought our house we did buy a dining table – but that’s because until then we’d rented apartments that had breakfast tables built in, and eating off the floor didn’t seem a viable option. but we didn’t buy a big screen tv, or a new car, or upgrade our kitchen appliances, we showed restraint. A better argument for the hidden costs of homeownership is the ownership part – replacing the roof, fixing plumbing, etc. I know the general sense is use some percentage of the total cost of the home (e.g. 2%) but I feel that’s not a fair representation – a $800,000 1200 sq.ft home built in 1960 in central toronto can not cost more to maintain than a 2000 sq.ft house costing $500,000 in north newmarket. So I’d average it out and say we spend about $5000 on maintenance. Some years more (roof) some years less (2015).

        1. Look, the key point is that maintenance is a variable expense you can’t control. A financial plan that can be derailed by a leaky roof or mould in the walls is NOT a solid plan. Boy, homeownership really warps people’s brains into thinking $5000/year on maintenance is totally okay. If you have a mortgage, then the amount you are paying for interest and maintenance is MORE than what we were paying in rent! Who’s actually throwing their money away?

          1. Hi FIRECracker
            I love your blog, just found it. My husband and I were lucky enough to buy our small 1200sqft home in Ottawa at the end of the low priced 1999 cycle. It did take (9) years to pay our $96,000 loan down after focusing first on RRSP’s to get our investments going. It cost $35,000 in interest across those (9) years….darn interest costs!

            But here is the kicker….now we are on easy street….for the rest of our lives… rent….just property tax $2500 and likely only $1000 on average for roofs/furnaces etc….while we travel the world on cruise ships every chance we get (2-3 times per year). We work well to reach our other financial goals by saving >50% of income while always seeming to have the money on hand for any surprises that life throws at us.

            1. Nice! Looks like you got in to the housing market at a good time. Congrats on being on easy street and welcome to the blog!

  8. Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!!! Congratulations to both of you.
    I’m at the tail end of the Boomers myself, or one of the first Gen Xers, depending which chart you consult. Things sort of worked out for me, so I can’t complain. But I KNOW that that won’t be the case for my kids, so you can be sure that I will be sending them your way.
    Please keep going with you blog, it’s massively important for people to understand the options and to make informed choices. The sooner the better! More power to you.

  9. You are awesome! I really admire you. I was considering myself to be a good saver comparing to all my friends but I need to learn from you. Me and my husband are behind you in savings because we came to Canada from country where it is impossible to save that much that early, but we have similar aspirations – save a million, invest, travel, write book (me), understand what I want to do in life besides work (my husband).
    I encourage you to write more, it will be very helpful.
    What my hardest dilemma now is whether to hire an advisor like you did or do it yourself with the help of blog + learning as much as we can from sites/Garth’s blood etc.
    Why did you decided not to do it yourself?
    VI (between Gen X and Millennial:)

    1. Great question, Vic! We decided to go with Garth because it’s always good to have an expert vet your investments. The thing about money is that it is REALLY easy to inadvertently make a bad decision that blows your entire plan up. For example, when we approached him, we were trying to create a purely dividend-producing portfolio consisting of only common stocks. He was the only one, out of all the advisors, that told us this was dangerous because it concentrates your portfolio into bank and oil stocks. If we had done that, we would’ve blown up this year with the plunge in oil. Garth helped us dodge that bullet.

  10. Great website, very entertaining writing style. It’s amazing that you resisted the real estate buying peer pressure. I’m single, in my late 20’s and make decent money, so everyone surrounding me is insisting I should buy a place, which does not make sense in Canada’s crazy markets. Reading Garth’s blog helps me stay strong haha. Keep up the good work, I went through most of your articles today and they are quality articles.

    1. Hi Jinx,

      Thanks! In order to fight the real estate cult, Millennials need to stick together and resist peer pressure. Good for you for not caving to the insanity. Stay strong.

  11. As an early 30’s Canadian, I used to frequent often and even received some very helpful advice from Garth in one of his posts (he thankfully changed my name and location so that I became Tony from Calgary… haha), but I don’t go there much anymore.

    The reasons for my departure from that site are two-fold: first, everyone talks about houses and financial markets, as if they are the end-all / be-all of human existence, not to mention that the posts in the comment sections are so diverse and without polite discourse that it often feels like a shouting match where nobody bothers to hear the other side’s point of view.

    Second, I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that Garth (rightfully) ushers people out of the (bubbly) housing market straight into (arguably equally bubbly?) financial markets. It seemingly worked out well for you, so congrats, but the financial markets are not without risks and Garth’s continual denial that a 2008 event (Global Financial Crisis) could ever happen again is suspect to me, as it sounds exactly the same as someone who suggests the housing market will never collapse (never say never!).

    A website I find far more helpful in terms of living an “educated, socially-conscious and environmentally-friendly” lifestyle, which you claim is what Millennials truly are, is The Automatic Earth. It’s not as good these days since Nicole Foss no longer seems to contribute, but she did publish several articles from 2008 to about 2013 that captured some of the real predicaments that are facing the entire human species.

    Given how intelligent and successful both of you seem to be, I hope you’ll take on the challenge of looking at some of the predicaments The Automatic Earth raises and work them into your “Millennial Revolution”. Because as nice as it would be for Millennials to avoid housing and free up income to travel the world and avoid working a 9-5 soul-sucking job, I think there are far bigger issues that they are facing today (and in the near future).

    To successfully navigate future challenges (e.g. financial collapse, energy scarcity, crushing deflation, food crisis, climate change, etc.), Millennials need their (intelligent / successful / resourceful) peers to lead the charge in addressing said issues, not hypocritical Boomers maintaining the status-quo to ensure their lavish retirements / pensions / benefits while simultaneously telling Millennials that they’ll have to deal with all the world’s problems that the Boomers never bothered to address.

    Hope you two will check this out:


  12. Happy and congrats to hear your success story. We are software engineers in late 20s and really think this could be replicated by us. We are starting to save about 140K per year. However we are in US (California) and healthcare is a big issue if you don’t have a job. Especially after 50 (assuming we are healthy until then). I have seen many in 50s working just for healthcare benefits. Do you think 4% rule stays good in today’s circumstances ?
    Waiting eagerly for your future posts 🙂

    1. Hello and welcome, fellow techies! If you’re saving saving 140K/year, you can DEFINITELY replicate this. AMAZING job, you two!

      For Health insurance, remember that Obamacare works by providing federal subsidies to help pay for your insurance premiums dependent on your income level. When you retire your income will drop drastically (and be easier to control), thus qualifying you for subsidies. My friend and fellow retiree wrote about how he optimizes his Obamacare tax credit here.

      We also found that when we were travelling in Asia, healthcare is very inexpensive and lots of retirees go there for “Medical Tourism”. This is another option if you decide to go abroad after retiring.

      As for the 4% rule, if you read our How Much Is Enough article, we breakdown how this gives you a 95% success rate. At 3% withdrawal, you get a 100% success rate.

      Now if that doesn’t assuage your fears, we actually found that our costs dropped to 3% in retirement. We can live off just the dividends of our portfolio so we don’t even have to look at the market. We also have the option of going to lower cost countries (like Thailand or Mexico) and write books and code apps to build a side income (and since you guys can code, you can easily do it too!). So there are many many knobs to turn. When you’re not tied down to a city for work, you’re free to go wherever you want. And with all the time in the world, you can easily work on your passion and build a side income.

      1. As of now we don’t have kids. Not sure if we ever want to have kids. But we have postponed that decision for at least 3-4 years. Personally we feel bringing up kids in California (Silicon Valley) may be the best. Due to political, social and opportunity reasons. We are originally from India and know options in both worlds. Again this is our take as of now 🙂 We have not given a serious thought on home schooling.
        However we would like to know your take on kids and how does cost of living change with them in equation.

        1. We did factor the cost of kids into our calculations and we also talked to other early retirees who have kids. I’m thinking of inviting one of them for a guest blog post. Would that be of interest to you?

          1. Yes. That would be great 🙂 As of now we are not sure how early retirees take cost of kids into equation. Do they all home school? Because home schooling may not be for everyone. Cost of all the extracurricular activity. How do they handle social skills and building long term friends for kids. Personally our friends from school are still our closest. We do have other friends but friends from school are the ones we can share anything.

            1. These are all great questions. Of the early retirees I know, some use public schools, some do homeschooling, just like everyone else. While we are traveling the plan is to homeschool. If later we decided we want to settle down, we’ll find a low cost city and use public schools. We’ll also ask our retiree friend the same questions and see what his plan is.

  13. I’ve been reading the Greaterfool for about a year now so it’s my first time learning about you two. Great story, great plan moving forward.

    Best of luck, I’ll be following the blog moving forward.

  14. Congratulations on joining the 1%. It’s not just the millennials that have a lot to learn, the boomers have made a right mess of their finances as well. We live in a world of escalating debt, both personal and governmental. The simplest lesson to learn when it comes to finances is compounding interest. It either works for you or against you. It can be brutal when it’s against you and magical when it works for you. You keep pounding that lesson out there and don’t listen to all the background noise that the naysayers throw at you. Most of it is just sour grapes, since they seem incapable of doing it themselves. Yes, I’m a boomer and like you I surpassed that million mark many years ago now. The advantage to having wealth is not being able to buy more crap that you don’t need but being able to give back to your society. A very good feeling in your old age. Keep up the good work and all the best to those you can convert.

    1. “The simplest lesson to learn when it comes to finances is compounding interest. It either works for you or against you. It can be brutal when it’s against you and magical when it works for you”

      Hmm…you are giving me an idea for an article…

  15. Hello!! Your blog is such a breath of fresh air!! Thank you so much for sharing your story. My husband and I are in our early 30s. We’re the only people in our circle of friends still renting, and we are very happy with that decision. We also both got sucked down the PhD road and have had significant student loans and to pay off. Therefore, we have only recently started saving with the goal of being able to accomplish what you have. My question to you is, how do you recommend investing or managing our savings before we have enough saved to hire someone like Garth (I assume people like him need a minimum of like 100k?)? I really can’t stomach the idea of just having the money sitting in a bank savings account, and as you pointed out in one of your blog posts, I don’t trust any of the bank financial advisors. Thanks so much and I’m so excited to join this revolution!

    1. Hi Laura!

      Thank you! Kudos to you for not getting sucked into the real estate insanity. Very happy to hear about your savings goals and I completely understand your mistrust of bank financial advisors. Most of them just want to sell you products, not help your money grow. I’ve asked Garth about his required minimum to take on a client and will get back to you.

      As for investment advice on how to invest your savings before 100K, in the beginning, when we had less than 100K, we invested in low cost mutual funds (TD e-Series). It was the only one with a reasonable MER (others were charging 2.5%!!! Insane!) and we didn’t want to use ETFs yet because the trading costs would be too high as a percentage of our portfolio.

      We’ll put together an investment article to explain all the investment vehicles sometime this week.

      Viva la revolution and nice to have you onboard!

  16. Been reading Garth’s blog for a long time now, but to be honest it feels like I’m just spinning my wheels.

    Got a degree in a STEM field back in ’08, got a job in a laboratory on a temp contract making a hair above minimum wage (lol). None of the temps were renewed after the 6 month term was up, and I haven’t had a job in my field since, because after the GFC nobody wanted to hire, and now I’ve just been out of the game too long. Underemployed millennial #546945 and counting reporting for duty.

    Just started working in construction 2 years ago, going from making minimum wage to approximately double (somehow), but it still seems like I’m getting nowhere. Nearly 30, renting for $1000 a month, took my “down payment gift” from the bank of mom and eagerly threw it at my fee-based portfolio manager, but I’ve only managed to save about $40,000, despite saving since before I was 18 (employer matched RRSP contributions are great, but minimum wage is still minimum wage).

    About half of that $40,000 figure is pre-oil-induced-market-collapse, the other half went in at approximately the bottom, so I don’t know how much I “actually have”, not that I’m too preoccupied about the exact dollar value. I’m trying to take it easy and not pay too much attention to market ebbs and flows, as Garth suggests.

    Either way, I don’t feel like I’m making any progress, I don’t feel like I’m making money, and I certainly don’t feel any better off than somebody who took out a $350k mortgage for an ugly condo.

    1. Sorry to hear about your situation 🙁 During our travels, we met a guy who was making minimum wage working in hostels in Amsterdam. He started fixing bikes as a hobby and his friends kept recommending him to other friends, and in less than 2 years, he started his own business making 60-70K EUR/year (that’s 6 figures in CAD dollars!). There’s a also a friend of mine who went to community college for 2 years, started making only 30K out of university, worked for a few years, got a PMP (Project Management Profession) certification, and is now making $100K a year. I could interview her to find out how she did it. Would that be of interest to you?

      1. Thanks for the reply.

        I have a few hobbies, but none of them are really marketable, even if I quit my day job to focus on them.

        I’ve been making some extra money helping a friend with side job of his for the last few months, but it’s not going to be a long term thing, it’ll dry up sometime. I’m fortunate that this kinda fell into my lap, but I don’t really know where to go from here to make things better for myself. Been looking around the internet for ideas but nothing seems to seem feasible for me, any insight you can think of would be greatly appreciated.

        Thanks again.

        1. Hi Woofers – I read this recently and I really think this is doable, given time and effort. You can reduce the numbers based on the area you are living. But this is doable. You can do this for sometime until you figure out what else is out there. If you have already looking into software engineering and hate it for some reason, then you can ignore this.

          1. Just want to add I am in no way related or have personal experience with app academy. I posted the link to get an idea. This should be doable even without reaching out to any academy. There is lot of free tutorials out there from renowned institutions like Stanford, MIT for free. I guess if you are convinced, this is the path you need to take there are numerous path these days. Most of them for free. Wish you all the very best !

        2. Okay, since there seems to be an interest on How to Make More Money, I’ll brainstorm an article.

        3. We are age 55&61 and retired. We downsized from a huge house (stupid investment) to a tiny condo. If there had been someone with computer skills we would happily have turned over a lifetime of books household goods collectables etc to be sold on line. Perhaps this is an idea like the bicycle repair fellow who started small and grew into a big salary.

    2. Hey Woofers. It seems you are looking around at others and judging your life based on how great you think everyone is doing.

      You need to realize a few things that are very important and true.

      1. You are most certainly better off than someone with a $350k mortgage. From what you have written you are approximately $390k AHEAD of those people. Their other expenses are probably more than yours per month considering they are paying condo fees, possibly utilities and taxes etc.

      2. MOST (this is so true yet nobody thinks of it) of the people around you, your age, living in nice houses/condos, with nice cars and clothes are up to their eyeballs in debt!! It’s a sad thing that so many people look like (and try to make everyone around them think… keeping up with the Jones’ is rampant) they are doing so great, all the while they are in a deep dark pit of debt it will take decades to crawl out of.

      You are 30 and from the sounds of it, have no debt. I wish you could pat yourself on the back and realize that you are doing great! Keep looking for additional income, or getting a better paying job and keep saving. Being dept free at your age is an accomplishment!

  17. Idea for blog post: discuss how Waterloo co-op contributed to your success. I’m sure Waterloo would love to hear about it too!

    1. Waterloo engineering is insanely hard get through but definitely worth it. If I could be their spokesperson I would.

  18. Hey u 2,

    Do you have some spreadsheets you can share for tracking your budgets or calculating retirement. I bought a house in 2012 when market was low and I’m selling it next month because I’m a single mom of 2 with no time to be taking care of repairs and maintenance (don’t want to spent my free time doing yard work!). But since I bought low and now I am selling when the market is high I want to make good choices with the money that I make for myself and my children. I just binged read almost all your articles and I have so many questions! But first and foremost thank you for coming out of the shadows and letting us see that it is possible.

    1. Since you’re a busy mom, I would suggest using a budgeting software like “You Need A Budget”. Since I don’t have kids (yet), I have more time to export my credit card statements and track cash spending on a daily basis, but I’m not expecting other people to be able to do that.

      Once I get catch up on all the emails and blog messages, I’ll put together a post on budgeting and calculating your time to retirement.

  19. Hey Wanderer and FIRECracker!

    First of all, heartfelt congratulations on your successful early retirement. I only recently found your blog (via an office-wide email, no less!) and was very glad to see you not only being happy with your experiences but also that you decided to spread the word about your success via this blog and all these awesome media appearances.

    I have been binge-reading your blog recently and have a few requests:
    – Can you elaborate (probably in a separate article) on the fixed-income side of your portfolio. In particular, how you mix preferreds and REITs with bonds, and the reasons behind the decided allocation among these investments.
    – For equities, how do you decide how much to do for Canada/US/International? The advice has always been “track the index” but which index? That part has been personally causing me a lot of worry.
    – Fix the f#%@ing “share” bar. It keeps covering left part of the page in Chrome on my Mac laptop.

    1. Hey D! Office wide email? Can you forward that to my gmail? I’m curious as to what it says 🙂

      When I was in my accumulation phase, the fixed income side was simple: The Canadian Universe Bond Index which tracks government bonds up and down the yield curve. As we got closer to retirement we shifted our fixed-income towards higher-yielding stuff like Preferred and REITs because we knew we’d need the income more than the capital gain. As a result, we swapped out ~20% of our portfolio for Preferred shares and about ~5% REITs. Both are tracked via index-hugging ETFs, we avoid individual companies.

      As for equities, the 3 indexes you should care about are the TSX, the S&P500 and the MSCI EAFE (which stands for Europe, Australasia and Far East). We started with a 3-way split as our “neutral” stance, and then adjusted a few percentages here and there based on how we thought each region would perform relative to the others. For example, we hand-wavingly thought the US and Internationals would outperform Canada because our economy is so tied to the housing market which we believed was overbought, so we yoinked 3-4 percentage points and gave it to the US and Internationals. Then oil crashed so we ended up being right but for an entirely different reason.

      Anyway, we have a philosophy of not betting TOO strongly in any one direction. There’s a little bit of tea-leaf reading there but as long as you don’t get more than a few percentage points offside from a neutral stance, you can’t really screw yourself over too badly. Guys like Ketan will go “YEEHA 100% USA!” but as a result his portfolio swings like crazy.

      And WHOOPS. I will fix that share bar thing. Goddamned CSS. I HATE CSS!!! Does it look OK now?

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