The Best of My Own Advisor – 2012

Happy New Year everyone!

With some close friends, my wife and I rang-in the New Year at our place.  It was a great night to celebrate the year that was with them and to toast our respective year ahead.  We’re looking forward to seeing what 2013 has in store for us.  I hope whatever you did for your New Year’s celebration was enjoyable…

Looking back at 2012, My Own Advisor was rather busy posting an average of 10 blogposts per month.  For today’s post, we’re going to review some of my favourite posts from last year, articles that pushed me to learn a little bit more about what matters when it comes to saving, investing and spending money wisely.  Check out The Best of My Own Advisor – 2012 below.  If you have any favourites from this list let me know about them by leaving me a comment or sending me a tweet @myownadvisor.

January 2012

At the beginning of the year, I wrote:

“Tired of reading technical and academic “how to” investing books?  Scratching your head to figure out the financial jargon that goes with investing these days?  Let Dan Bortolotti’s MoneySense Guide to the Perfect Portfolio be your helper.  In a visual, straightforward and simple format, Dan will breakdown the components of sound investing, explain the basics of index investing and why it works, and add some humour along the way.  At a lean, crisp 128 pages and for the bargin book price of $9.95, you’ve got an easy, enjoyable and educational read.”

Check out my two-part review of Dan’s book.

February 2012

In February I wrote:

“Most Canadians are enamoured with RRSPs, for all the great reasons above and more.  This tool is also a component in our retirement plan but just one of many.  Instead of busting our butts every winter to maximize our RRSPs we choose to optimize our RRSPs instead.  That is, we contribute only enough money to our RRSPs to avoid paying any more income taxes.  If anything, we might get a small tax return back (which is fine).”

Read about why and how we optimize our RRSPs.

March 2012

In the spring, I wrote about how we view and apply the practice of “paying yourself first”:

“Pretty much anyone who has read anything about personal finance has heard the mantra:  pay yourself first.  David Chilton popularized this mantra with The Wealthy Barber and reinvigorated it again in The Wealthy Barber Returns, two of my favourite personal finance books by the way.  I’ve been giving this financial rule some thought recently, and how it applies to our personal finances, specifically how we manage and build our emergency fund.   Here’s what it means to us:  it’s a bill payment.”

April 2012

In April:

“Recently, my wife and I got our tax refund back.  It wasn’t $1,000 but it was close.  A tax refund can be considered a good thing and a bad thing in my opinion.  On the good side, we were given money back we really didn’t expect or maybe better said, forgot about.  On the bad side, we just gave our government an interest-free loan over the last year.  In this regard, I think getting a huge tax refund is undesirable and many Canadians shouldn’t welcome this although many people do.  Instead of that money working for you, it’s working for the government.  I don’t know about you, but I give the government enough money.”

Read more about how I view tax refunds and how we spent our refund in 2012 here.

May 2012

In May, I had a lot to write about regarding Rob Carrick’s Guide to What’s Good, Bad and Downright Awful in Canadian Investments Today.  Check out some of my favourite takeaways from his book here.

June 2012

Earlier this year, I wrote:

“In the world of courting and finding Mr. or Mrs. Right, a critical part of this journey is dating.  Same goes for the dividend investor.  Any do-it-yourself (DIY) stock investor, who is planning to live off their stream of dividend income, needs to know their dates.”

Check out this article about defining these:  dividend declaration, ex-dividend, record and payment dates.

July 2012

Some time ago, I wrote about my financial rules of thumb – a moderate list of financial principles we try and live by.  In July, I challenged myself to see if I was actually living these values.

Read about how I eat my own cooking more often than not, when it comes to reducing debt, only using our line of credit when necessary and building a rock-solid retirement portfolio.

August 2012

In August, I wrote diversification is a serious issue for active investors:

“Too much weight in too few stocks or too many stocks in one particular sector can cripple a portfolio.   For indexers using Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), diversification isn’t really an issue; if you own some of the following products, a few companies removed in these ETF holdings are not going to change much of anything in terms of volatility or investment returns.”

Check out how I fight this issue in my portfolio when I answered the time-tested question:  how many dividend stocks are enough?

September 2012

I attended the Canadian Personal Finance Conference (CPFC) in Toronto last fall, and when I wasn’t spending money there I was definitely saving it.  Learn about some super simple things I do to save money.

October 2012

In the fall, I wrote:

“I’ve been a loyal BlackBerry user for over three years now but I’m feeling the urge to switch phones.  The urge comes with seeing newer technology on the market, smartphones with faster processors, more features and better browsing experiences.  It’s a want over a need – got to acknowledge that.  Actually, it’s hard to believe it was only a few years ago a BlackBerry was the phone to have.  This fall/winter, I’m in the market for a new Android phone, not an iPhone.”

If you’re considering a new smartphone, consider reading this post about why I didn’t buy an iPhone.

November 2012

As a result of my frustration with our overly complex tax code, I decided to dig deeper and demystify for myself the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) foreign income reporting requirements.  Check out my rant but also some great information for every investor about foreign income tax reporting requirements.

December 2012

Last month, I reported we nailed all but one of our 2012 personal finance and investing goals.  One reader wrote an email and went so far to say, “you should have stated you realized 5.5/6 goals because you were so close.”  Fair point.  Overall, it was a great year of saving and investing.  We’re just shy of 9 years left on our mortgage at our current debt payment rate and this calendar year, I hope to hit another major milestone when it comes to earning dividend income.   I’ve got some goals planned for 2013 but until I finalize those, check out our accomplishments and shortfalls in this update.

Another year has passed but here’s to a New Year to prosper in.

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