Weekend Reading – Dividend cuts, Smith Manoeuvre, It’s OK not to be OK, and more #moneystuff

Weekend Reading – Dividend cuts, Smith Manoeuvre, It’s OK not to be OK, and more #moneystuff

Hi Folks,

Welcome to my latest Weekend Reading edition where I share some of my favourite articles from the week that was across the personal finance and investing blogosphere.

I hope you’ve had a good week…

Earlier this week, I partnered up with fan and contributor to this site, fee-only financial planner Owen Winkelmolen who agreed this is a bulletproof retirement plan.

Spend more or retire earlier in this bulletproof retirement plan

As a preview for next week, I have a new book to giveaway and I might get around to sharing my latest (April) dividend income update. In the meantime, here is my previous update that highlights we are more than 67% towards realizing our semi-retirement goals.

Thanks very much for your readership and sharing this site with others.

In April, this site garnered over 70,000 views.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Enjoy this Weekend Reading edition and stay well!


Weekend Reads

I read that Husky Energy slashed their dividend by 90% this week. Incredible but not surprising. Likely more bad news to come for oil and gas investors. 

That prediction aside, here are some top Canadian stocks to own to ride out the COVID-19 triggered market crisis.

A good episode here going in-depth into the Smith Manoeuvre on Explore FI Canada with Robinson Smith.

Good of Robinson to answer my question – for the most part. I asked the team to ask Robinson about really needing to use the HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) to invest. Instead, focus on paying down your mortgage through “normal” means while investing in registered accounts first (before taxable investing). His reply was fine but I think he missed the context of my question. I asked whether the complexity of this manoeuvre was really worth it and whether an overburdened Canadian population struggling to manage debt effectively should be toying with a HELOC. My context was you really need some significant financial discipline with this approach; as HELOC limits increase over time. I would argue most Canadians do not have that much financial willpower.

Overall, I think if you’re good with processes in your life and ** should you be good with money ** then some form of leveraged investing is reasonable. However, I would always be cautious about any leveraged investing should any of the following happen: 1) you lose your job; 2) you have any sort of healthcare scare and your income is impacted, and 3) the stock market takes a significant dive – as in now.

GenYMoney seemed to like Thinking Fast and Slow by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as well and these were my takeaways from the same book. Highly recommend you read it. 

Chrissy from Eat Sleep Breathe FI wrote that she is not always OK with this COVID-19 crisis. Some quotes that resonated with me and how I feel about all this…

“The scale of what’s happening is so massive and unprecedented—it’s hard to make sense of it all.”

“How can our governments continue to dole out massive amounts of funding when the revenues have all but dried up? It’s not hard to see that the math doesn’t add up. Once this is all over, what will the ultimate cost be, and will we be able to afford it?”

I also have a sense of anxiety about the long term effects of this situation. I really have no idea other than much higher taxation how my cohort Gen X or the next generation, Gen Y, is going to afford this.

I’ve learned a few things from this COVID-19 crisis myself but more importantly I intend to:

  1. Continue to reduce our carbon footprint with time; reduce waste; buy less crap. 
  2. Eat better, exercise more and take more quiet time to enjoy life’s simple moments.
  3. Be more grateful (although I am) and remain aware that these things sadly can and do happen – so prepare for it to some degree financially and emotionally. 

Although I’ve never been one to strive for FIRE (I have never really liked the “RE” part of this moniker) it was refreshing to listen to someone who focuses on the simple aspects of “FI” – as part of Financial Independence, Retire Early. A good podcast and one of the best I’ve listened to in the last few months.

There are six phases in my financial independence journey. I’m firmly in phase 4 now.

Should you delay your retirement because of COVID-19? Jon Chevreau makes some good points in this article.

I do believe for most of us semi-retirement makes the most sense. Some form of work (and income from it) will help you and I maintain a sense of purpose. That’s excellent for wellness. You should consider postponing retirement because of this crisis. 

Other fun stuff…

Speaking of retirement and opportunities to become a wealthier investor, you can find dozens of real-life case studies to help you determine your “how much is enough” number and free tools to use for your retirement or semi-retirement planning on my dedicated Retirement page.

Reader question of the week (adapted for the site):

Hey Mark,

I love your blog and have learned so much from it, and always look forward to each post. I also invest with a hybrid approach as you put it. I have a question on DRIPs – after skimming your page about it here.

Do you have a certain suggestion on how to figure out the quantity of stocks to purchase, to ensure the purchase is large enough to allow for a synthetic, whole-share DRIP at your brokerage?

Curious, how many stocks are your DRIPping right now?

Thanks so much!!

Thanks for your question and readership.

On my DRIPs page, let’s walk through the following example.

Pretend you own 100 shares of Company ABC. ABC just declared a dividend of $0.20 per share payable next week. This means in the coming days, you will get paid $20.00 for the 100 shares you own ($0.20 per share x 100 shares).

You already know dividends by ABC are paid quarterly, so you’ll get $20 every 3 months going forward unless ABC decides to raise, lower or stops their dividend payments to you. You never know with dividends!

That said, some companies have been paying dividends for generations…

Back to you, you have a few options about what to do with your $20. Let’s look at those:

Option 1 – you could take the $20 in cash.

Without running a synthetic DRIP, ABC will deposit the cash directly into your discount brokerage account. Cash in. No work needed.

Option 2 – you could enroll ABC (if eligible) in a DRIP with your brokerage.

In doing so, because 100 ABC shares paid you $20 in dividends, but the ABC share price is $18 in our example, then your synthetic DRIP would buy you 1 whole share of ABC (@ $18.00) and the rest would be paid in cash ($2.00).

You now own 101 ACB shares.

Now that you’ve enrolled your ABC Company in a DRIP this process will repeat for you every quarter so long as ABC pays a dividend and you own enough shares to reinvest one (1) full share.

The challenge is, you don’t know what the future share price will be on any given day!

So to your initial question you need to own enough shares not only to cover the share price today but by the next quarter should the share price rise when dividends are paid. You need to add in some buffer. Otherwise, continually rising share prices may not be enough to DRIP the stock (unless of course the dividend increases too).  Win-win.

Reader: do you have a certain suggestion on how to figure out the quantity of stocks to purchase, to ensure the purchase is large enough to allow for a synthetic, whole-share DRIP?

Essentially, my formula is:

(Share price) / (quarterly (or monthly) dividend payment per share) = # of shares needed to DRIP

+ (buffer {say up to 20 shares}) = should be able to DRIP synthetically.

Using ABC Company for a quick example:

(18) / (0.20) = 90 + (20) = 110 shares total.

Assuming ABC share price remains around $18 +/- and assuming the dividend does not change…those 110 shares x $0.20 dividend per share = $22 dividends (which is more than enough to DRIP one (1) whole share of ABC around $18).

Reader: curious, how many stocks are your DRIPping right now?

Good question, I needed to look that up!

I own a number of CDN and U.S. dividend paying stock for income and growth. After your question came in I did my tally. I’m DRIPping at least one (1) whole share from 20 CDN stocks and at least one whole share from my 10 U.S. stocks for a total of 30 synthetic DRIPs running right now primarily inside our TFSAs and RRSPs.

Those DRIPs are helping us grow our dividend income. I write about our income journey using the non-registered account and using our TFSAs specifically via Canadian stocks in the link below. I hope to have another monthly update in a few short weeks now that April is gone…so stay tuned!

March 2020 Dividend Income Update

Happy investing everyone,


16 Responses to "Weekend Reading – Dividend cuts, Smith Manoeuvre, It’s OK not to be OK, and more #moneystuff"

  1. Hi Mark,

    Apologies if my response didn’t get to the heart of your question. I will completely agree with you that many people may not have the discipline to diligently implement The Smith Manoeuvre over the course of time. And that is a major reason why investment advisors and financial planners are so important – to act as a guide, coach, or even drill sergeant at times. A good advisor is one who will always be there to remind their client of their investment strategy, regardless if the client is doing The Smith Manoeuvre or not. And a good advisor is also one who will advise their clients the strategy is not right for them, if that ends up being the case.

    As to whether Canadians should focus on simply paying out the mortgage conventionally and contributing to registered accounts versus taking on the complexity of the strategy, that is something that is deeply personal and is dependent on every single individual. As you will certainly be very clear, no blanket recommendations can be made considering every investor’s unique situation. My goal is to get the word out and let Canadians know that it is possible to simultaneously improve your tax bill, eliminate your non-deductible mortgage debt quicker than without the strategy, and start to build up a retirement investment portfolio starting immediately, all without requiring any additional cash from the homeowner. If the strategy turns out not to be the right move for them, at least they are making financial decisions with full information on the options.

    As regards concentrating on contributing to registered investments vs implementing The Smith Manoeuvre, it is not an either/or proposition. If you are able to only contribute a little to registered or if you are able to max them out each year, the investable dollars due to The Smith Manoeuvre are 100% incremental. If you had $100 or $1,000 each month for registered investments, you now have additional dollars to invest in a taxable account.

    The numbers are clear – all else equal, if you implement the strategy you improve your taxation, you are out of your non-deductible debt faster, and your investment portfolio is higher than just focusing on paying down the mortgage conventionally and stocking registered investments.

    I’ll end off by again saying that I very much appreciate your words on discipline – just like anything in life, if you are disciplined, your results will be better than if you are not. And if you are not a disciplined person, don’t do The Smith Manoeuvre. Love your balanced approach on the subject, Mark. Keep it up for the good of Canadians! Robinson.

    1. Thanks for your detailed comment Robinson. It was an informative interview on Explore FI. I enjoyed it. As you know, and can tell (!) I simply struggle with the leveraged investing component based on the reasons you already replied to. Otherwise, I think it’s a great approach to at least consider.

      The numbers can certainly work out since you’re essentially getting money working (that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to) FAR earlier – the magic of compounding in action 🙂

      All the best and continued success to you,

  2. Thanks for the mention Mark!
    Good for you that you have only SU and it’s less than 1% of your total portfolio. My book value for Husky and SU is like around 8% (eekkkkk).

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Well, I do have exposure to pipelines as well….ENB and TRP in much higher % than 1% of SU.

      Besides, I already had IPL cut on me!

      Stay well,

  3. Mark
    Don’t post here often anymore, sometimes life gets in the way. spread my fiancees ashes 4 weeks ago. her fight with cancer is over. Cancer won.

    Recently noticed some massive dividends…somewhat a result of share price being beaten down so badly, example ENBL.nyse had an indicated 52% div. Had to buy some, my thoughts…even if they cut div 50% now (they did) that’s still a 26% div and in the years ahead, div’s increase.

    What are your thoughts on taking advantage of Black Swan events?

    I also bought Royal Bank PP when it was paying a 10% div back in 2008 or 09. Sadly thought flat recovery back then and sold covered calls. Dang V shaped recovery…made a big gain but lost the 10% div that would of paid out a lot more over the next 11 years. won’t be selling any covered calls on ENBL until div hit single digits.

    Sadly have to hold this in a RRSP for Uncle Sam tax reasons

    1. My goodness…I’m very sorry. My condolences. I hope you are doing OK.

      In terms of taking advantage of any Black Swan events, yes, I hope to. These are essentially my thoughts:

      I don’t participate in covered calls. I have an article about that on this site:


      All the best to you and I wish you well.

  4. Get Rich Brothers · Edit

    COVID-19 has definitely shaken up the way we go about our lives. What has stood out to me is how prescient Nassim Taleb’s concept of “Antifragility” has been. In the face of a black swan like this, it’s imperative to have a solid financial foundation that can withstand a situation unlike any we’ve seen before or may ever see again.
    Also, I’ve written exactly what you said about the “RE” part of the FIRE acronym. I love the concept of being financially independent, but don’t feel it necessary to retire early, supposing one enjoys one’s gainful employment.
    Take care,

    1. I haven’t read that book. I should get my hands on it. Send me your link about your article, I would be happy to read it 🙂
      All the best Ryan!

      1. Get Rich Brothers · Edit

        Yeah, “Antifragile” and “Black Swan” are both worth a read. The concepts stick with you long after you’re done.

        Here’s one where I made reference to wanting FI rather than the whole of FIRE when I paid my truck off:

        Hope you enjoy the read, Mark.


  5. I still like ShareOwners Investment Inc.as my broker. They might not rank as one othe top brokers, but they are the only one which offers full dividend reinvestment.
    Might not make a big difference for those who can invest larger amounts on a regular basis, but for those who are retired or only invest smaller amounts, their tough to beat.
    I have a few stocks left in my RRIF where the dividend is less than $10, because I transferred all the shares. But those few dollars still buy me a fraction of a share. Pennies do make a difference and it’s nice to see every dollar working for me.


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