Weekend Reading – Evil index funds, housing affordability, #MyMakeItHappen and #money stuff

Weekend Reading

Welcome to my latest Weekend Reading edition.  I hope you had a great week.

Here are my articles from this week:

My latest dividend income update.

Check out my review and book giveaway:  The Ten Roads to Riches.

Enjoy these articles I found interesting and best wishes for the weekend – see you here again next week.


This article questions whether index funds are evil.  I personally don’t think so but you can be the judge!

Surprise!  B.C. household affordability is a laughing stock.  According to this article, one prominent Canadian bank has estimated that paying down a mortgage in the Vancouver area would take up 79.7 per cent of household income, according to its most recent affordability index.

My friend Stephen Weyman has a new site up and running (CreditCardGenius) – helping you compare credit cards to find the best fit for you.

Interesting to read this list of top personal finance books according to many financial bloggers.  Thanks for including me and my book suggestions in your list!  Other books I’ve learned from are listed here.

On the subject of mentions I want to thank Scotiabank for including me in their recent campaign #MyMakeItHappen.  They encourage you to share your own financial story, picture or video for your chance to win a cool Apple product prize.

Ex-NHLer Dany Heatley was awarded millions in a recent lawsuit.  The compensation stems from his former agent, and the agent’s parents, promising hefty profits from investments in condo developments – that were never fulfilled.

An impressive article about retirement income options for Canadian non-residents.

I got a chuckle out of this article in the San Francisco Chronicle.  Apparently a private oval street lined with 35 mega-million-dollar homes don’t know how to pay their tax bill.  This is because based on a city-run auction, a young couple now own the street and all the common elements they live on.

Can you afford that mortgage?  Boomer and Echo offer some good tips including an overview on debt service ratios.   You can read my take (and my big struggle) with those ratios here.

ModernAdvisor provided 5 reasons to start an RESP.  A reminder you can start investing with this top-rate Robo-Advisor with $1,000 of their own money here. 

Retireby40 is generating some great passive income. 

Here are some basic budgeting tools thanks to Canadian Budget Binder.

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.

15 Responses to "Weekend Reading – Evil index funds, housing affordability, #MyMakeItHappen and #money stuff"

  1. Re: “My only concern with ETFs is how are the providers voting on the shares that they hold. Better still are these providers holding company managers feet to the fire on issues related to corporate pay, directors, and performance packages such as stock options etc.”

    Want to know the answer to that?
    Read ‘Citizens Disunited’ by Robert Monks.
    You probably won’t be surprised by the answer.

  2. Evil ETFs
    Having read a number of articles that attempt to categorize ETFS as inherently evil or socialist plots or ticking time bombs, I’ve noted that few of the authors ever point out the fact that ETF inflows are essentially growing at the expense of outflows from mutual funds (many of which were simply closet index funds). That being the case, I can’t understand why I had never heard any of the same arguments used against the proliferation of mutual funds.
    Furthermore, many of these anti-ETF articles base their argument on the extremely unlikely case that ALL stocks are held in indexed funds and thus ownership is concentrated in the hands of the few companies who manage them. Mutual funds have been around for over 40 years and no such concentration has yet occurred. Personally, i don’t think such extreme concentration will ever happen, as there will always be individuals who prefer to directly own shares in the companies in which they invest.
    My only concern with ETFs is how are the providers voting on the shares that they hold. Better still are these providers holding company managers feet to the fire on issues related to corporate pay, directors, and performance packages such as stock options etc.

    1. Definitely a theme with the “ETFs are evil” rhetoric. I don’t buy it. Sure, there are downsides to ETFs, and indexing for that matter, just like any other methodology. Only a fool would be so blind as to tout ETFs as the best-thing-since-sliced-bread.

      I have no problem with people singing the praises of some ETFs, just like there are merits (and downsides) to mutual funds, GICs, owning a home as an investment, dividend paying stocks, non-dividend paying stocks, etc.

      I too don’t think a huge concentration of indexing will occur but if it does, it will likely only push the pendulum back to active management because the herd mentality can’t always be correct.

      Thanks for your comments.

  3. re: B.C. household affordability is a laughing stock…a mortgage in the Vancouver area would take up 79.7 per cent of household income
    Some truth to the axiom that timing is everything…by buying before the uber boom, our current personal affordability index is ~15%. If one of us stopped working, it would double to 30%, still well below the Canadian average of 46%. But you have to read the actual report to find even more outrageous numbers. Comparing apples to apples (instead of apples to the entire produce section), affordability of single family detached house: Vancouver 111% (“median pre-tax household income that would be required to service the cost of mortgage payments (principal and interest), property taxes, and utilities…”).

    re: article in the San Francisco Chronicle.
    Classic case of a true alternative investment (and a legacy passive income source…depending on how many lawyers them rich white folk can afford). Kudos to them. Index funds et al can provide an inflation-nullifying rate of return, but it’s these other types of diversified investments that can pay off big time.

    re: Credit Card Genius
    Oxymoron, but anything goes in the age of the internet. Yet another example of someone who has now understanding of the complete credit card & reward cycle (or if he does, he willingly ignores said knowledge). Seeing as how Canadian citizens lead the world in usage of both personal debt and reward programs, it’s not surprising so many are addicted* to these two now seemingly forever intertwined consumer products. The producers have done very well in creating a very real emotional attachment between their products and the consumers; exceptionally Pavlovian. It’s been a societal habit and addiction generations in the making, no wonder so few users would ever dream there might be some kind of negative associated with these endless “free rewards” (e.g. “Now you can get rewarded faster without all the headache.” Um…wow. Thanks Mr. Pusherman!). Bottom line: credit cards make EVERYTHING more expensive for EVERYONE — regardless if you have points coming out your wahzoo or if you pay your balance every month. There is no ‘best’ credit card, there is no free lunch.

    *Addiction Symptoms Checklist
    (4 symptoms = moderate addiction; 6+ = severe addiction)
    Often taking more of the substance for a longer period than intended
    Ongoing desire or unsuccessful efforts to reduce use
    Great deal of time spent to obtain, use or recover from substance
    Craving the substance
    Failing to fulfill obligations at work, home or school as a result of continued use
    Continued use despite ongoing social or relationship problems caused or worsened by use
    Giving up or reducing social, occupational or recreational activities because of use
    Continued use despite ongoing physical or mental health problems caused or worsened by use
    Developing tolerance (feeling less effect from the substance with continued use)
    Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after reducing use


  4. Thanks for some entertaining reads Mark. The San Fran thing made me laugh too. That’s almost certain to be worth a lot more into the future.

  5. I downloaded and read “My Warren Buffett Bible”, which consists 290 of Buffetts quotes. It’s only 55 pages and has his opinions and comments on many topics. The one I like best was:

    “Diversification may preserve wealth, but concentration builds wealth.”

    1. You of course have a point that Buffett and other investors have become very, very rich from company concentration and not diversification. For the average investor though, that is not as savvy as you, I believe diversification is important long-term.

      1. I’ve said the same for years. However, it’s interesting to note the paradox of the statement when it comes from Buffett. His wealth is derived from a concentration in Berkshire stock, but the value of Berkshire has grown only because it is so diversified (on many different levels)*. Thus, perhaps better to say, “A concentration in diversification builds AND preserves wealth”. I dunno, I’m not the multi-billionaire!

        *(reducing it further, one could say that the diversity of Berkshire is derived from concentration of a single source: Warren Buffett. Which awakes another investment quotable, “The best investment to make is in yourself.”)

  6. Thanks Mark for the mention. I’m still trying to get back on track after the month long holiday back home. I have lots to write about especially how damn expensive it is in the UK. I felt the heat this time visiting as opposed to living there. Have a lovely week mate.


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