My Own Advisor Year in Review

My Own Advisor Year in Review

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to a new Weekend Reading edition, this one, sharing my Year in Review. My final post for 2023. 

I hope you continue to enjoy the holidays and any downtime you might have from work…

Since the holiday season ramped up, I thought I would share a few recent reads before I list some of my favourite posts of 2023.

Thanks to reader inputs and based on my own observations related to the timing of RRSP/RRIF withdrawals, I shared this Weekend Reading update:

Weekend Reading – Art and math of RRIF withdrawals

I posted this article about buying and holding low-cost ETF XAW over the years. 

And, as the holidays approached I shared some things I’m personally thankful for, although there are a few personal finance nuggets from Rob Carrick as good things too!

Weekend Reading – Things to be thankful for

My Own Advisor Year in Review

2023 was a fine year for My Own Advisor thanks to every reader and visitor. 

The dawn of 2024 will mark the start of 15 years running this site!

Over the years, readership has grown. Engagement has grown.

My user base has ballooned: 2023 had more than 229,000 unique users on this site!

My Own Advisor Year in Review

Source: Pexels.

Thanks again for your readership. It does mean a great deal to me since I continue to run this site as some labour of love, to continue to engage with long-time subscribers and all new visitors as well. 🙂

On that note, I encourage you to continue to comment or email me about any particular subjects I should track down and write about to support you, us, others, as passionate DIY investors.

Today’s blogpost will highlight a few articles by month from the year that was, with some other Weekend Reading to follow… Here were some of my favourite articles from 2023.

My Own Advisor Year in Review

As someone who has a corporation, I wondered what the pros and cons might be of investing inside my corporation. I put down some thoughts and included my answers in this post – taxation of investment income inside a corporation.

In January 2023, I also highlighted a stock that I’ve owned for well over a decade now: Telus.

Then and Now – Telus

In February, I debunked a myth from a viral post that mentioned most Canadians will need $1.7 million to retire on. Yes, some might. Thankfully, many won’t.

I also shared great things you can do with your TFSA. A post I intend to update soon since 2024 TFSA contribution room is just around the corner!

In March 2023, thanks to another reader, I included this retirement case study and profile that might appeal to many readers:

I’m single – is it possible to retire at age 55?

The following month, I wrote about five-factor investing and what really drives stock returns. Of course, all the theory is nice but we all live in the real world and not on a spreadsheet. It’s therefore impossible to predict the future with any accuracy. This is why I feel my 15-year hybrid approach to investing captures the best of both worlds, to realize our goals and to match my investing temperment:

  1. Using a basket of Canadian (and some U.S.) dividend growth stocks for passive, rising income +
  2. Using some low-cost ETFs to ride the equity returns for everything else.

I firmly believe in this two-pronged approach since it should not only provide some stable, passive income for life, but it should also deliver capital appreciation as well.

I shared how this approach is helping us realize our goals in early May.

April 2023 Dividend Income Update

I believed then as I continue to believe now leading into 2024, that this hybrid investing approach should push our annual dividend income even higher as mortgage debt comes to a close…very soon. 

Also in May, with interest rates rising / with interest now to be earned on savings or near-term cash, I profiled these cash-alternative ETFs to park cash savings while earning more than 4%…funds I happen to own myself. 🙂

Are Cash-Alternative ETFs Right for You?

While I remain a fan (and owner) of low-cost ETFs in our portfolio, I simply don’t own any low-cost ETFs that track just the Canadian stock market. You can read why once again in this post. 

In July, I was back talking about some moaty stocks to own and why I own some, examples from Canada and the U.S. are in the post below.

Weekend Reading – Building a moaty stock portfolio

I also shared this new retirement income case study profiling how a part-time job/side-hustle can really support your retirement plan:

How your part-time job can support your retirement

With so much emphasis on stocks in our portfolio, as some stocks in some sectors got hammered in mid-2023, I wondered if it made any sense to be 100% in stocks anyhow?

Should you have 100% of your portfolio in stocks?

Given our Canadian economy is very much tied to our oil and gas industry, I wondered where oil might go from here/summer 2023 pricing?

In September 2023, as a bit of a follow-up to my 100% stocks post, I asked the auidence: why would anyone own bonds right now?

Why would anyone own bonds now?

More My Own Advisor Year in Review

Like most asset accumulators striving for semi-retirement or retirement, I have a strong bias to owning mostly stocks in my portfolio but I do keep some cash inside my corporation and I/we definitely keep some cash in our personal accounts, for these reasons. In fact, I think keeping some form of Cash Wedge at any age, as you invest, is very smart. 

The Cash Wedge – Managing market volatility

As some higher oil and gas prices stick around…something I wrote about earlier in 2023, I shared these top ETFs and stocks to take advantage of higher oil and gas prices.

Top Canadian Energy ETFs and Stocks

I have no idea what 2024 might deliver but certainly since the pandemic started, oil stocks have been booming.

You know what else has been flying for returns? Low-cost ETF QQQ. Over the years, I’ve actually sold most of my U.S. stocks in fact and diverted USD $$ into this low-cost ETF over time for 1. portfolio simplicity beyond Canada and 2. to seek higher returns. Good thing in hindsight.

I own some QQQ for the tech-growth kicker in our portfolio. This ETF was up over 50% in 2023!

Then and Now – QQQ

In December 2023, I came back to our hybrid investing approach and shared this new monthly income update hinting that future months should be even higher thanks to new savings for investment purposes (of course) but more importantly, leaving the portfolio alone and letting dividend increases do most of the work. 

November 2023 Dividend Income Update

Phew! Quite the year of writing and sharing and commenting! 🙂

via GIPHY

But again, this site remains a labour of love…

My Own Advisor Year in Review – looking ahead…

What does 2024 have in store?

Well, updated content, for sure. New content, absolutely. More monthly dividend income updates and progress towards some financial independence, work on own terms decisions – yes, of course. All that is to come along with some freebies/giveaways, more free retirement income case studies and likely a few expert interviews as well. 

I look forward to another year of running My Own Advisor, supporting other like-minded DIY investors, helping other investors seeking to take the DIY investing leap and learning from many reader comments, emails and online engagement.

Happy New Year to you and your family. All my best.

Mark

My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

24 Responses to "My Own Advisor Year in Review"

  1. I would reiterate my general comment above. Using portfolio visualizer there are some stories to tell using results that go back to 2022, and 2019. For instance, if you invested $10,000 in each on January 1 2022 you would have ended up with $6,205 in FNGU and $11,387 in MSFT. But, back it up to 2019 and you get opposite results, $84,585 in FNGU and $38,995 in MSFT.

    Since we can measure MSFT back to say 2000, which we can’t do for FNGU, we can find that $10,000 invested in 2000 in MSFT would be worth $103,692 today. I would fee confident putting my money in MSFT knowing that I might underperform FNGU over specific periods in time, but feel relatively safe that for any period that includes a sustained bull run MSFT is going to be the leader.

    Full transparency, I have about 6% of my portfolio in ENS, a split share fund that only invests in ENB. So, it’s not that I’m against vehicles that use covered calls and/or leverage, but I think it’s important to do a lot of back-testing to ensure the manager is doing the right things with options and leverage. Since July of 2023 ENS has way underperformed ENB, but recently rebounded. I keep a keen eye on what’s happening. Since 2019 ENS has outperformed ENB significantly (15.34% CAGR vs 9.56% CAGR for ENB).

    Reply
  2. Hi Mark;
    All the best to you and your family for 2024. Looks like you will be laying to rest the mortgage. A great achievement.

    I would also like to to thank you for your dedication and time spent on this site which benefits pretty well everyone who reads it. Takes a lot to keep things relevant to whatever is happening in finance and the world at any given time.
    Looks to me like you derive some pleasure in hearing from your readership as well.

    Ricardo

    Reply
  3. Happy New Year, Mark.
    Thanks for all your great info and articles over the years.
    I was in your neck of the woods in May, boy has Ottawa ever changed since I lived there. In so many ways.

    Reply
    1. In good ways or bad ways? Curious!
      Ottawa is still a nice city overall but getting expensive to live in!
      How are things in your area, Barbara?
      Happy New Year to you and family!
      Mark

      Reply
      1. Hi Mark,
        Our time in Ottawa was limited due to other constraints, but we had two full days and nights there, staying with old Grad school friends. We were lucky and had glorious weather.
        The city was just so much more crowded than I remembered. Our friends had moved from their prior homes in Neapean to Westboro–I thought that would be much closer to the centre, but it seemed so far and time consuming to get anywhere. And the traffic on a Sunday was horrendous, especially on the Queensway, it was just so surprising.
        We were able to visit the Tulip Festival around Dow’s Lake, but you could barely move due to the crowds. I have a photo of me, 8 months pregnant, in front of those tulips from 30 years ago. No crowds and could do a leisurely stroll around on a weekend,
        and have a drink in the pavilion back then.
        Things are good out here in the Okanagan, warmer weather meant no white Christmas, so no shovelling yet.
        Now in full retirement mode, in 14 months we did four separate one month trips, along with a few shorter ones. SE Asia, South America, Europe and Canada/USA. This past summer we did two home renos/updates that were needed.
        All of this to say I haven’t really got a handle on retirement spending and income streams needed yet, still working on that and trying to simplify things.
        Always a work in progress!

        Reply
        1. Dow’s Lake can be very busy during that festival for sure…a big tourist and inner-city attraction.

          Glad to hear things are good in the Okanagan – we enjoyed our visit to Kelowna and area many years ago. Nice spot! 🙂

          Four, nice, one month major trips each sounds great and it is our hope we can start doing more longer-term travel in the coming years as part-time work ramps up. More to share later on in 2024 on that!

          Happy New Year to you!
          Mark

          Reply
    1. Ha, yes, mortgage free in <3 months. We could pay it off now or we could have paid it off in 2023 actually but with our mortgage at 1.69% it didn’t make too much sense to me and I preferred to invest during the year – including saving up for 2024 TFSA contribution room. Ready to roll/deposit tomorrow! 🙂

      Happy New Year to you, Maria.
      Best wishes to you and success in 2024!
      Mark

      Reply
  4. Mark,
    I just came across what it looks like a fantastic money making machine!!!!!! Those stocks provide high monthly income distributions and excellent capital growth. They offer the best of both worlds, so to speak. They are called “Yields Share Purpose ETF’s” and you can purchase the big tech companies at a fraction of the price!!!!!! Also, trade in Canadian $$$$, another big plus. The symbols are YTSL (Tesla ), APLY (Apple), YGOG (Google), YAMZ (Amazon). What are your thought, Mark?? Are they too good to be true? Are they high risk stocks??

    Thanks Mark for your comments. Happy new year to you. Wish you good health and wealth.

    Reply
    1. Nice to hear from you, Ken!

      The way I see it, yield and growth are two sides of the same coin. You can’t have lots of both. These Purpose ETFs are actively managed and use covered call strategies to generate yield. These are likely not good candidates for any non-registered investments/taxable accounts.

      I personally don’t own them but they do have some risk based on covered calls, namely upside potential.

      https://www.morningstar.ca/ca/news/235921/should-you-buy-a-covered-call-etf.aspx

      “…But it comes with some downside risk and a lack of upside potential. But it’s really, these are higher risk than bonds. And there’s that opportunity cost of upside returns. So really just income focused investors.”

      If you do decide to own some, I wouldn’t go all-in myself. 🙂
      Hope that helps!

      Happy New Year to you too!
      Mark

      Reply
      1. Thank you Mark for your valuable comments as usual. I am a bit confused when you said:”they are likely not good candidates for any non-registered investments/taxable accounts”. My understanding (if I am right) is the income distributions from these ETF’s are considered as capital gains which are favourably taxed at 50% as opposed to pure interest income which is taxed 100% in a non-registered account. So, are they not good candidates for a taxable account given the income distribution is taxed at 50%??
        Any clarification would be greatly appreciated. Thank you Mark. Happy New Year.

        Reply
        1. Thanks, Ken. I like capital gains, an efficient form of taxation for sure and WAY better than interest income via interest, GICs, etc. in a taxable account. I should have clarified that unless your RRSP and TFSA is full, then potentially registered investing using covered call ETFs or any ETFs for that matter, is likely the way to go. Sometimes my head is moving faster than my fingers on the keyboard.

          I’m biased on this, but I’ve always believed in maxing out the TFSA, then RRSP (to the max), then investing in any taxable accounts thereafter after the TFSA, RRSP is full and out of contribution room.

          What is even more tax efficient, in a taxable account, are stocks or ETFs that pay no dividends or distributions at all. I don’t invest that way myself but I do tend to put lower-paying Canadian dividend stocks in our taxable accounts for that reason and doing more of that over time…for that reason. I didn’t always invest that way but I have always maxed out our TFSAs first, then RRSPs next, in the last 10-years or so…

          I hope that provides better insights into my brain! 🙂
          Happy New Year back!!
          Mark

          Reply
    2. Hi Ken,

      Ben Felix has a great (and short) recent video on YouTube where he discusses covered call and leveraged ETF products in general. I recommend it. Also there are other videos on YouTube commenting on TSLY, demonstrating how investors would be much further ahead by owning the stock directly.

      I agree with Mark that possibly a small percentage of one’s portfolio might be worth the risk but losing a lot of the upside could be detrimental to the long term value of a portfolio. There’s no free lunch in investing.

      Oh! And Happy New Year to Mark and everyone else on the site.

      Reply
      1. Thanks for that, James. I’m certainly a fan of owning the stocks directly since any hedge/leverage is a play on the stock themselves and likely to work out in favour of the person running the fund/ETF vs. the direct owner. But, everyone has different investing objectives and these products are created just for that! 🙂

        Happy New Year back!
        Mark

        Reply
      2. Thank you James R for your valuable comments. I agree that there are high risks in this kind of investment and it’s better to own the stocks individually to reduce the risks. What are your thoughts on FNGU that offers 3X leveraged ETN. The returns are spectacular (450% YTD so far)!!!!! FNGU concentrates on the giant tech companies. Would appreciate any comments you might offer. Thanks a lot. Happy New Year to you and to all readers.

        Reply
        1. Hi Ken,

          I did post another comment but I forgot to use the reply to your comment feature – so look in the list for a post I made a few minutes ago. Also, I had a quick look at the Fact Sheet for FANG and this comment sticks out to me:

          “Each ETN seeks a return on the underlying index for a single day. The ETNs are not “buy and hold” investments and should not be expected to provide its respective return of the underlying index’s cumulative return for periods greater than a day.”

          That’s certainly enough for me not to risk my retirement holdings in FANG.

          Reply
          1. Thank you James for your valuable comments. I agree that ETN’s carry very high risks. One should never risk their investments in this way. A small position is good enough.

            Reply
            1. Yeah, some doses of this stuff or any investment is fine. You might recall I have a “5% rule” to be a bit speculative on things – hardly a bad thing to scratch an investing itch. To have 10% or 15% of your portfolio (or more?) in one stock or speculative ETF is likely not a great idea but again, only you know what risks vs. rewards you can tolerate!

              Mark

              Reply
        2. Triple leverage? Yikes…

          If the underlying index (QQQ or other big-tech) moves well, up, then triple-leveraged funds can certainly go up but they tend not to actually produce three times the underlying index’s performance…long-term. Just not possible. 🙂 I dunno. These things are too much financial engineering for me Ken! 🙂

          Are you thinking about adding a bunch to your portolio or just a small %?
          Mark

          Reply
          1. Thank you Mark for your comments. I have only a small position in my portfolio so that I can still sleep well at night!!!!! It’s hard not to notice the super YTD returns though!!!!! My view is that going forward to 2024, the likes of Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc will do very well as the AI (artificial intelligence) revolution is just the start of something very big…ha..ha.. Don’t you agree, Mark???
            Cheers.

            Reply
            1. Well, I do own a bit of QQQ for my tech-kicker and that ETF was up 50% in 2023. Will that occur again? I highly doubt it but I wouldn’t be surprised to see QQQ hammer out another 10-15% by the end of 2024. Tech is simply moving the S&P 500. Full stop. To avoid it is foolish.

              That said, I have that 5% rule of mine and I’m slowly adding more XAW over time to offset any individual stock or sector ETF/QQQ risk.

              QQQ represents <5% of the overall portfolio. XAW is approaching 5%. I have a bunch of stocks in the 5-4-3% range 🙂

              Mark

              Reply

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