Reader Questions – Saving and Investing Updates

Reader Questions – Saving and Investing Updates

I appreciate hearing from you and receiving your saving and investing questions so I can share some updates.

I’ll be the first person to acknowledge our saving and investing approach might not be suitable to everyone however I believe things are working out pretty well so far thanks to the following – some multi-decade saving and investing discipline:

  • We put a high priority on saving for investing purposes each month.
  • We keep our money management fees very, very low. We don’t trade stocks or ETFs. 
  • We have a plan to kill off our mortgage debt prior to semi-retirement. 

Saving and Investing Updates

I originally posted this article back in the summer of 2022 but I wanted to update it since even over a year, things change, including more reader saving and investing questions in my inbox to answer!

(Reader questions are in bold, my answers follow.)

Mark, can you remind me how you built your dividend income portfolio? What stocks you own and why?

You bet 🙂

See link here.

How I built my dividend portfolio

Mark, I notice your dividend income updates keep going up even when the broader stock market is going down or sideways. How is that possible? Can you comment on that for me? I think that’s probably because: 1) you invest new money, and/or 2) you reinvest all your dividends and distributions often and/or 3) you’re counting your dividend or distribution increases as well. Is that correct?

Yes, yes and yes!

Let me answer each one of your questions or points. 

1. Yes, my/our dividend income is going up over time thanks in part to new money added to our TFSAs, first, every year and then some taxable investing if possible. In fact, every year, since 2009, my wife and I have been maxing out our TFSA contribution room. After the TFSA is maxed out, and after all RRSP contributions are made, if we have any money leftover we invest from time-to-time in our taxable account although that is very infrequently since there is only so much money to go around…

A gentle reminder:

Managing the refund well is the linchpin in the RRSP vs. TFSA debate

2. Yes, the chart below is consistently on the rise over time thanks to reinvested dividends but only inside our TFSAs. I try to avoid interrupting the power of compounding!

From our May 2023 Dividend Income Update:

May 2023 Dividend Income Update Post

3. Yes, we are fortunate that many of the stocks we own increase their dividends year after year – even coming out of a pandemic! So, when dividend increases happen, that tends to increase the dividend income year-over-year as well. 

Mark, I read your post about how much do you need to retire on $5,000 per month or $60,000 per year with great interest – that’s my target! Honestly though, do you think most Canadians can either save that much up OR could even retire on that with higher inflation?

Thanks for reading and here is that post you referenced in case others want to read it too!

How much do you need to retire on $5,000 per month?

In terms of your first question, my answer is yes on the condition that many Canadians need a modest, sustained salary coupled with long-term investing discipline to realize that investing goal.

(I suspect that double-double is rare for some Canadians however….)

In that case study, my case study couple needed the following saved up by age 50 to spend $5k per month throughout retirement:

  • x2 TFSAs = about $150,000 each ($300k total).
  • x2 RRSPs = about $400,000 each ($800k total). 
  • x1 Joint Non-Registered Account (Rebecca from case study) = $250,000. 

___$1,350 million. 

These seem like very big numbers in many accounts, I can appreciate that, but like I mentioned in my answer above, you don’t actually need to save that much money for retirement since time invested and the power of compounding does much of the work for you…

As for your second question, “it depends”!

I know some retirees that live on $4,000 or so, per month, debt-free, quite nicely. 

Here is a good example of retirement on a lower income:

Can you retire early on a lower income?

I know other retirees have told me they couldn’t possibly imagine living on less than $6,000 or $7,000 per month. 

I wrote years ago I believe it depends on what you spend to determine your “enough number”.

I still feel that way today.

Consider what you spend for your enough number

I also like this sketch 🙂

How much is your enough

Reference: The Behavior Gap.

Here are some other detailed case studies on my site if you want to benchmark where you’re at and where you might be headed:

  1. This couple has $1.2 million saved up for retirement but no company pensions. Can they retire?
  2. This couple wants to spend at least $50,000 per year in retirement. How much do they need?

Mark, I know you get a 42% income boost by deferring your Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefit from age 65 to age 70. Are you going to take CPP at age 70?

Correct, and yes. That’s largely our plan ahead. 

We are very likely to take both OAS benefits at age 65, CPP at age 70. 

I’ll keep you posted!

What are your thoughts on inflation? Is higher inflation here to stay?

Yes, I’ve been planning for that since late-2021: This is how I’m investing for higher inflation.

As you approach semi-retirement, are you going to change your portfolio? Own more ETFs? Own more stocks? Own more bonds? Other?

Not in my plan at least!

Here are other saving and investing updates:

  1. I will continue to own low-cost ETFs for some extra diversification beyond Canadian borders.
  2. I don’t see any reason to change my current stock holdings. I keep most of my dividend stock holdings updated on this page here.
  3. Beyond investing, we’ll simply kill off the mortgage debt remaining. Our balance is under $35,000 at the time of this post. Once the debt is gone, within a year (??), I believe my wife and I will be in a financial position to consider part-time work / work in semi-retirement. 

I/we have no plans to own any bonds near-term. 

There is a case to own bonds, I just don’t have any plans to do so.

Reminders from the article:

“Bonds haven’t helped offset losses in the stock market this year. And high inflation has been a double-whammy against fixed income assets. But bonds can still play a role in a well-diversified portfolio. They can still protect against deflation and disinflation in the economy.”

Do you invest in any preferred shares?

Actually, I do not. This is the reasoning behind that. 

How often do you check your portfolio?

Probably about once per week or at least every two weeks – largely to tally my growing dividend income. Ha.

Readers, keep your questions coming. I enjoy trying to keep up to every email, every comment and every interaction on Twitter with me.

In future Reader Questions editions, I’ll dive deeper into sharing just how much total income I think our portfolio could generate, and what we need to earn, to start semi-retirement with. 

Thanks for reading and sharing. Drop me another question or comment below!


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.

17 Responses to "Reader Questions – Saving and Investing Updates"

  1. Hi again Mark,
    Thank you for answering my question above. I am now in a position to open a non registered account and buy dividends. I understand the accounting of dividends can be a headache. If you are DRIPing, is there one brokerage that is better than the rest for helping keep things organized ? Or are you better off just to take the cash dividend? Thank you.

    1. Hi Again Alice,

      Pros and cons of course to DRIPping in taxable account. I’ve had experiences with a few of them and they are all the same really – but I do recall TD Bank keeps track of your adjusted cost base and iTrade might as well.

      Here is an interesting article.

      At the end of the day, you can DRIP (and keep track) or just take the cash dividend and reinvest it where possible.

      The accounting can be a small hassle but rather easy to get used to!

      1. Hi Alice,
        I was away from home when your question was asked, but reading it now, I want to add that yes, indeed, Scotia iTrade keeps track of your adjusted cost when reinvested dividends are added.
        You do not have to do any work in that regard. Good thing, because once you have ten or more stocks dripping there are a lot of transactions going on. They only thing I keep track of myself is when I purchase a stock in USA dollars; then I keep track of the date and the Canadian dollar exchange rate, to put the cost into Canadian dollars.
        I use iTrade and really quite like it. I closed my TD Direct Investing and moved that money to iTrade but since then I believe they have done many improvements. I also used Questrade and did not like that one at all. Everything was so difficult, but it did have lower fees for somethings. Now they say they cannot remove my name and personal details, ever. Just not to use it. Doesn’t seem right to me.

        1. Great stuff and thanks for sharing Barbara. I recall TD Direct Investing also keeps track of adjusted cost base now. Other brokerages are slowly supporting this as well – as they should – a great feature.


  2. Mark, you said “We are likely to take both CPP benefits at age 70. We are likely to take both OAS benefits at age 65.”
    Why would you not defer oas too? 36% more at age 70. Plus, if the clawback is in effect, wouldn’t you get to keep more of it if the payment was larger?

    1. Thanks David. We might 🙂
      I don’t think any OAS clawback will apply to us, but it might if we defer to age 70. Also, there are no OAS survivorship benefits per se so we figure deferring only CPP makes the most sense. OAS is also tangible money we might need in our late-60s to spend and enjoy.
      That decision is about 25 years away for us so we can have some time since we plan on semi-retiring before taking any CPP or OAS benefits.


  3. Hi Mark, what are your thoughts on buying an annuity at age 70 with 30% of your assets to create another income stream if you don’t have a defined pension plan? Thank you

  4. Hello: In retirement for a number of years now we have been in the process of collapsing our RRIF(RRSP),paying some taxes and funding our TFSA with the withdrawals. In this way we transition to a more favourable tax treatment vehicle that is growing. In our TFSA mainly defensive ,quality, dividend paying/ growing companies are held with a long term perspective. In the event of unfortunate health circumstances the funds could continue, hopefully , to be held with minimal worries.Thank you for your insights and work on this blog. Take care. Mike

    1. Mike, that seems very smart to me and that’s also a playbook with other successful retirees: moving RRSP/RRIF assets to TFSAs where possible.

      I appreciate your kind words and comments! 🙂

  5. Great article Mark, thanks for taking reader questions. Can you recommend a spreadsheet or tracker to keep stocks and dividends up to date and generate nice charts like you have of your monthly/yearly dividends?

    I’ve switched to a hybrid approach similar to yours and learned quite a lot from your blog and Henry Mah’s books.

    Thanks for the continued education!

    1. Hey Charlie!

      Great to hear from you.

      I put a very simple spreadsheet on my Helpful Sites page – see top link:

      I’m biased of course, but I’m a big fan of my hybrid journey since I feel I get the best of both worlds – growing dividend income and low-cost diversification via ETFs 🙂

      Let me know if you have any further questions please!

  6. ” I notice your dividend income updates keep going up even when the broader stock market is going down or sideways. How is that possible?”
    Why all investors (and especially those so-called financial advisors) are not aware of this aspect of investing for Income or dividends, has always stumped me. This is alone should encourage investors, to at least look into investing for income, and consider the advantages it has over investing for growth.

    1. Ha. Well, I can’t speak for others Henry but certainly part of my ongoing motivation to stay invested, and buy more stocks over time, is because of dividends – the tangible income I can see and use!

    2. My thoughts exactly. One should do their homework before investing in securities. Fluctuating stock prices do affect your capital should you hold them. However, those up down or sideways price gyrations do not negatively affect your dividend income…unless you have a dividend cut on a rare occasion.


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