Weekend Reading – Finding value stocks, affordable housing is gone, is $1 million enough and more!

Weekend Reading – Finding value stocks, affordable housing is gone, is $1 million enough and more!

Hey Readers,

I hope you had a great week!

Welcome…to another Weekend Reading edition, highlighting some of my favourite articles from the week that was across the personal finance and investing blogosphere.

Just in case you missed last week’s edition you can find here: about financial independence, some of the best tech ETFs to own for growth, a case study about finding financial compromise and, I answer a reader question about my mix of individual stocks and ETFs.

For some additional tax filing support please ensure you check out this monster post: tax tips every Canadian should know about this year.

Tax tips every Canadian should know

What’s up this weekend?

Not much. Spring has sprung in Ottawa although it’s going to be cool. I have plans to get the mountain bike ready for a ride, walk to get our groceries, and maybe (probably) do some much needed stretching for the upcoming golf season. 

Whatever your plans are, enjoy, stay well and don’t forget to share this post and site with others.

Sharing is caring! 🙂

All the best,


Weekend Reads

My friends and partners at 5i Research highlighted how to find value stocks – with a twist. They also reminded us when it comes to dividend paying stocks: “We included dividends not as a way to exclude growth-oriented investors, but more as a way to find companies that have reached a certain level of maturity and stability.”

A great quote from one of my favourite sites about mental models and better decision making:

“Most people never pick up the phone. Most people never call and ask. And that’s what separates sometimes the people who do things from those who just dream about them. You gotta act. You gotta be willing to fail. You gotta be willing to crash and burn. With people on the phone or starting a company, if you’re afraid you’ll fail, you won’t get very far.” — Steve Jobs

Rob Carrick wrote affordable housing is not coming back. I would have to agree. Even here in Ottawa, prices have absolutely skyrocketed. Our 2-bed, 2-bath top-floor condo might be up over $200,000 since we purchased it a few years back. 

Rob wrote:

“It’s time to get real about young adults and ownership of detached homes in big cities. The housing boom that makes ownership so attractive to this demographic has priced a lot of them out of markets like Vancouver and Toronto. There’s no going back to the days when houses in these cities were a place to live as opposed to an investment, and you chose between suburbs and city based on yard size and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.”

I liked when Alexandra Macqueen highlighted some smoke alarms in a recent FIRE-y (Financial Independence, Retire Early) plan.

While the advisor Alexandra helped profile in this article is correct, the advisor mentioned Oliver in this FIRE-y couple is “…foregoing nearly $2 million of future earnings” by retiring early, one struggle I do have with such statements is future earnings do not equate to after-tax living. These are two very different things.

Also, as always with any retirement plan, it depends on what you spend in retirement that determines your “enough number”.

Well, that’s what I think anyhow…

So back to the case study, assuming Oliver and Cecilia in this case study can bank the $800,000 proceeds from the sale of their home, combine that with their $260,000 in their RRSPs and TFSAs, I think they might be able to spend $35,000 to $40,000 per year without fail assuming no future debt.

Like the advisor mentioned in the case study, what would worry me is if their spending needs change, if their health status changes, or just as importantly, how they may behave to ride out any bearish stock market – any one of those could derail their plans. We’ve seen very recently how panicked many investors behave when the environment around us changes. 

Then, over time, things recover. We just don’t know when…sometimes very unexpectedly and quickly when it comes to stocks.

TSX March 27, 2021

So, to help us behave, a cash wedge might be considered. I would not however put up to “$225,000 – in risk-free, laddered GICs” as suggested by the advisor (not Alexandra Macqueen). As a young couple, that’s a huge opportunity cost over equities. 

Here’s my initial take on a cash wedge for retirement or semi-retirement. 

More recently, this is my own plan about how much cash to hold in semi-retirement along with my personal bucket approach.

My Own Advisor Bucket Approach May 2019

We plan to start aggressively working on building up that cash fund, next year, as those semi-retirement dreams get much closer. Until then, we have these 2021 financial goals. 

At the end of the day, $800,000 or for a nice round, fun, aspirational number $1 million invested (without any debt) is still a tremendous amount of money saved and likely “enough” for many people to retire on in their 50s and 60s assuming they have some government benefits waiting for them. This also assumes they have modest spending needs, they stay out of debt, you own your home or have modest rental needs, retirees keep some cash handy when $hit happens, and finally they can ratchet spending up or down at will or when necessary. 

Thoughts folks? Is $1 million invested still enough to retire on?


Check out my dedicated Retirement page to ensure you learn what’s worked well from many successful retirees. Learn how they invest, what risks they consider and much more. You can read great content like this one:

Here is a proven path to early retirement absolutely ignoring any 4% rule.

Or this one…

This couple in their 50s will have less than $1 million invested. How much can they spend each year without fail??

Regarding my plan, a reminder about this article:

My Financial Independence Plan.

You can always find a current list of what I own, regarding dividend paying stocks, on this Dividends page.

More reading…

Here are things to consider when you’re retired, or bored, or retired and bored by Reverse the Crush.

On Cashflows & Portfolios, we discussed a very important topic even before you consider investing: savings by the age – are you even saving enough???

Dale Roberts was back striving to make sense of the markets on MoneySense.

Dividend Growth Investor highlighted 6 stocks rewarding shareholders.

GenY Money wrote a smart article here comparing ex-Canada ETFs: VXC vs. XAW. 

I personally own XAW but I don’t think you can go wrong with either! I own XAW now thanks to some of these lessons learned in diversification.

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


I’m a longtime reader and appreciate all the hard work you put in to improving financial literacy. 

I am just wondering if you approach investing in your non-registered account any differently due to taxes? I realize that we pay taxes on dividends every year vs. capital gains which are only paid once we sell. I think I am comfortable as a dividend investor and would find it difficult to invest in high growth/low yield stocks just to avoid or minimize taxes.

Your thoughts?

Thanks and keep up the great work!

Have you been reading my mind of late??

As you are aware, I have and will continue to invest in Canadian stocks in my taxable account since dividends are fairly efficient there. 
That said, I have been toying with the idea to add some international flavour over time in my taxable account. Not sure yet!!  For what it’s worth, XAW is fairly tax-efficient (as far as owning Canadian ETFs that own international content go) and to your point, I would not incur capital gains until I sell. I also like HGRO too although there could be capital gains incurred when they rebalance that all-in-one fund. 
Personally, I remain very comfortable with my Canadian stocks in my taxable account as I build up a modest income stream for semi-retirement. That income stream might approach $1,000 per month on average in the coming year!
I try and own what I feel are the “best stocks” to own regardless of how much dividends they pay or do not pay out – although I have a bias to getting paid. I really do. 
I figure taxation is actually a decent problem to have in retirement – all things considered! It means I have a decent income stream and CRA is coming after me for it. Ha. 🙂
Hope that helps and clarifies what I do and why. I have no doubt I’ll be writing more about tax efficiency, investing in taxable accounts, and how I might invest inside my corporation over time.
Thanks for your readership and very kind words. It means a lot!

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.

23 Responses to "Weekend Reading – Finding value stocks, affordable housing is gone, is $1 million enough and more!"

  1. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable retiring with only a $1M net worth. But I also don’t think I will hard stop retire for a very long time. I do plan on becoming work optional and taking a break from my “day job.” But I will probably work for myself or freelance. Freedom of time is what I’m seeking, not avoiding work. Work of some sort can give us purpose and it can be liberating to be able to work and not have to a living from it. Because $1M doesn’t feel like enough for us, our “retirement number” is supremely inflated. It might mean a few extra years of working now but will result in peace of mind later.

    1. Oh for sure, not talking net worth, talking $1M invested assets to spend/draw down. Then you have CPP + OAS gov’t benefits on top of that. I don’t think $1M in net worth is “enough” for many but the reality is some folks will have less.

      I’ve been working towards more freedom of time for the last decade + so I can relate Maria!

      Have a great weekend!

  2. Thanks, Mark. Another great read. Honestly, even if I had an extra $10M now, I wouldn’t go and buy a house in Toronto, Vancouver, or Ottawa but that’s just me. I put a value on materials and I basically can’t justify the current house prices. Eventually, the main hub cities will shift to other parts of the country and we will see a more balanced cost (Or I hope the government wakes up and do something about it) specially as the pandemic taught us many people can function 100% remotely and no need to be centralized in big cities to work in big cities. Even tax-deferral or less tax payment in smaller cities for businesses can help this movement.

    For the $1M. I personally think $1M will be more than enough for our expectations considering an almost not taxable 35K-40K. We hope (or dream) to spend half of the year (when kids are adults and I don’t have to work full-time) in other countries (Not the US or the Caribbean but mostly South East Asia, the Middle East, South America, and the Balkan region of EU). It might sound crazy but renting a big house in any of these regions can cost half of a 1 BR apartment in Canada. My brother lived in Turkey for 3 years. His 3 BR apartment rent with a sea-view was $140 USD / month. We will maintain or ties and make sure we spend 6 mths plus 1 day in Canada for tax and insurance purposes. Those 6 in Canada, the dream is to have a Camper. A camper parked in a camping site will cost much less than a rental apartment or ownership of a house.

    Nobody knows the future. The only thing we can do is dreaming and working on realistic plans to fulfill our dreams.

    1. If I had $10M I would not live in Toronto or Vancouver. I’d stay right here and likely buy a really nice vacation home.

      The good thing is, I don’t need to worry about owning/having $10 M. Will never happen!

      It will be interesting to see what policies come, if any, to curb this market. It’s insane now.

      I think $1M invested is a bundle for many people.

      As for that 3 BR apartment with sea views, that sounds great 🙂 $140 USD a month is a steal. Well done!!

  3. Mark , in regards to the real estate market we can only wonder how high will it go untill some kind of social revolution that’s going to take place , me and my wife have two rental properties that we haven’t raised the rent on them for the past three years because they’re a good tenants and second because the monthly rent here in Vancouver is like an entire monthly salary for a regular worker,in the last few years a lot of old low rise cheap rental units have been bulldozed to make a way for new highrises that have some insane price tags.
    I simply don’t get how we live in the biggest country in the world but yet the value of land is this high.
    I feel sorry for the next generation and just when i thought we had it bad i think theirs is going to be way harder.

    1. The next generation is really going to suffer, based on policies and other financial tools implemented by Boomers and GenX. We only have these generations to blame although some factors are out of our control for sure… (GenX here!)

      Congrats on the x2 rentals and good on you to be so good to your tenants.

  4. Hey Mark, thanks for putting together the weekend reads! That’s a great quote by Steve Jobs as well. And thanks for the shout out! I really appreciate it. I always enjoy the reader question portion of these posts. That’s a good question for Canadians that have maxed out their TFSA or if it doesn’t make as much sense to contribute to an RRSP. I like your answer, I would prefer tax efficient ETFs that don’t incur any capital gains until you sell, or quality Canadian dividend stocks. Have a great weekend!

  5. I’m always taken aback by other millennials who feel upset that they can’t buy a single-family home in Vancouver or Toronto. I guess that’s because I’ve always accepted that owning a SFH in these cities is impossible. I do wonder if people simply don’t realize just how many rich people Canada has. This, coupled with extremely low SFH inventory (and they’re not making more of them!), means these types of homes in our most desirable cities will always be out of reach for most people.

  6. Well we have differing stances on the CV issue. I tend to stick with more the science and numbers and for much of the population it’s less than some flu’s. Tough to generalize the flu, along with CV across all patient demographics. But, I’ll agree it’s here to stay with our present medias stance and politics at play.

  7. FYI Mark – there seems to be an issue with the Cashflow&Portfolios link you provided (the one pointing to “are you even saving enough???”. Can you double-check and correct if required? Thanks.

  8. 1M is enough? The answer is always it depends, LOL. Assuming a couple with average CPP/OAS and nothing else, 1M at 65 is actually pretty good I think. But for early retirement, personally I won’t be able to sleep if retiring before 60 with 1 million. Certainly sleepless in the case from that FIRE article. On the other hands, if one is still pretty young, then one can fire for a while and return to working life if it didn’t work out.

    Personally I think any retirement plan needs to have a safe buffet. Maybe 20% more than the expected expenses. Life is full of unexpected things, especially with budgets.

    1. You bet, always “depends” doesn’t it 🙂

      $1M at 60 or 65 is very good – more than most couples or singles will have. I don’t have hard facts to back that up but I doubt the majority of Canadians have more than $1M of personal, invested assets, saved up for retirement. Then again, if they work and live in Canada for years, they don’t need that much with modest spending needs.

      Life can be very unpredictable for sure…smart to plan for that!

      (Got your email 🙂 – will reply!)

    2. I remember 2008/2009. I lived it on Salt Spring Island. (Spent most of my own life there) Still do. There were some early retirees that had to go back to work. I turned 52 in 2009. The mrs and I had close million back than watched it go half and back up in less 18 months. I knows after that lesson freedom 55 would be like sleeping in a casino. At 60 cpp we could have done it. But the kids needed help with college. Now we turn 64 this yr. Last child finishing school. We are working it out to 65. Than cpp oas, + paid off house over a million in stocks over 70 div payers. I just might get a good night’s sleep in a veggie garden. And afford some personal care if my health gives out on me. Government health care in the homes is only about 45 minutes every 24 hrs. And also put 5 to 10% in real gold. And pray it’s the dumbest thing you do. Money doesn’t buy you happiness but it allows you to choose your misery. And that’s what makes me happy. Just play it safe.

      1. Great stuff Rob. With CPP, OAS + paid off home (no debt I assume or very minimal) + $1 M in stocks you are likely set but you already know that.

        Interesting on the gold…I don’t own any still/yet. Thoughts? Have you bought the new gold = bitcoin yet?


    3. It depends is right. For some its fine and for others no way. Its likely much more than most will have though.

      What income are used to living on pre retirement? Do you have other income sources now or in future? What needs and wants do you have in retirement? What is your expected longevity and what is the cost of living where you are? MANY factors.

      1M wasn’t enough for us before retiring, and we have 1 work pension. Wanted more for lifestyle and for safety. But I never really had an exact target number. We will delay CPP and likely OAS too.

  9. Mark: Hi from Mexico. Hope all is well. Another great post. I think there is still much opportunity for real estate, just not so much in Canada. For those able to the opportunities abroad are massive. I see an exodus of wealth from Canada in the future especially as the world shrinks due to technology. I’m bearish on Canadian real estate market. How much more upside can there be? Employment rate, interest rates, and gdp are at all time lows. More down side than upside, IMO. We are presently keeping our rental back home, while we have become residence of Mexico, but I am questioning just selling and entirely getting out. This last year has really opened my eyes. If I didn’t have much of our money inside an RRSP this decision would be so easy.
    Sounds like you guys will be going into another lockdown. So mismanaged in how it has been and is being dealt with, but that’s another IMO. I wish you well.

    1. Nice to hear from you Marc. Gosh, like you I think I can’t see a future where taxes, inflation and more are higher. How are Canadians going to deal with this mess?

      Yes, 3rd wave coming and pretty much here. Variants on the rise. This is the new, more aggressive flu sadly. Here to stay.

      Stay well!


Post Comment