Weekend Reading – Inflation and leveraged investing edition
Welcome to my latest edition of Weekend Reading – inflation and leveraged investing edition.
You can read some previous Weekend Reading roundups below:
How to plan your own retirement edition, and
Earlier this week, I posted this new post: why you should consider a cash wedge now and for any retirement plan to manage market volatility!
Have a great weekend and I look forward to all your comments!
Weekend Reading – Inflation and leveraged investing
Nice stuff by Money Mechanic on The Maple Money Show – sharing how he and his wife invest with some leverage to help get ahead financially, including private lending. That can be an approach for sure, but it comes with risks. I do believe Money Mechanic was wise to call out leverage as a form of “getting ahead”, an opportunity to use money – if done wisely with a long-term view in mind.
A reminder we have a killer giveaway with Money Mechanic and his partner-in-crime Chrissy at Explore FI Canada:
You can win a FREE retirement projections service from Cashflows & Portfolios!
Have a listen to one of their latest podcasts, enter to win a free retirement projections service from yours truly, and just as importantly – subscribe to Explore FI Canada for a cool personal finance podcast! 🙂
Curious about inflation? Want to learn more about how our Consumer Price Index (CPI) works? Thanks to @MoneyGal aka Alexandra Macqueen here is a guide to inflation: price changes, how the pandemic is triggering that, and what it means to your pocketbook.
Want to read about how I’m fighting inflation? In real-time?? Read on here!
A good discussion between Tawcan and one of his readers chatting about retirement withdrawal strategies.
On a related note, thanks to Jon Chevreau for featuring why you should not overlook these retirement income considerations!!
Reader question of the week (slightly adapted for the site):
My wife and I own a joint non-registered investing account. We hold some Canadian companies that pay dividends there. My wife recently opened a new TFSA direct investing account. I am wondering if we can make in-kind transfers from our joint account to her TFSA? Is that allowed? Are there are tax implications in doing so?
Great questions. I’ll do my best to answer them even though I’m not a tax accountant!
My understanding is, a jointly owned non-registered investment account can be very helpful to avoid probate when a spouse dies – that’s a big reason why some folks set those up and maybe that’s the reason why you did too! From Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) point of view, my understanding is the taxation of jointly held non-registered investments are somewhat straight-forward in that: taxes are paid on the investment according to the original contribution ratio to the investment. The challenge as I understand it (for those that have a joint non-registered investment account – I don’t) is that you will need to maintain detailed records that show who-contributed-what in the event an audit from CRA and for tax-filing purposes.
So, if you’re not doing this already – I would suggest you keep very good records in terms of the date of purchase, name of the equity or Canadian dividend paying stock in your case, quantity of shares purchased, and of course the adjusted cost base.
I wrote about some of the challenges associated with taxable investing in this article below – I have some similar things to navigate because I have a taxable account, but it is not joint with my wife – purposely.
So, I won’t bore you with the TFSA details – you seem savvy enough. As you know, only you are allowed to contribute to your TFSA. However, you may give your spouse or common-law partner money to contribute to their TFSA if they haven’t used their contribution amount. This way you and your partner are making full use of the opportunity to have your savings grow tax-free.
Lastly, when you sell any asset from your non-registered account, you might have a capital gain even if you want to move the assets in-kind (which essentially means “as-is”) so just consider those tax implications and all reporting needs.
I’ll be answering more reader questions next week – stay tuned!
Thanks to Fortis (FTS) and Emera (EMA) this week – I received more dividends for my semi-retirement plan based on their dividend raises (again). I hope to share my latest dividend income update next week. Until then….here is where I left off!
Fan of dividend stocks like I am?? DGI&R has a new look for his website where you can download his Canadian Dividend All-Star List.
Dale Roberts from Cut the Crap Investing looked at some dividend aristocrats in his Sunday Reads. For folks not wanting to bother with individual U.S. stocks, there are many great U.S. dividend ETFs to choose from.
I included those ETFs in this post:
Are rising interest rates bad for tech stocks??? Maybe….read on with Ben Carlson.
Bitches Get Riches shared everything you need to know about paying off debt – if you’re struggling.
Many people feel you need to save a bundle for retirement, and that can be true, depending how much you intend to spend. So, can you retire with a $500,000 RRSP? Can you retire without any company pension plan? Here is an answer to a reader we took on!
Save, Invest, Prosper with BMO and other Deals!
As always, check out my Deals page.
Enjoy your weekend!
Great post Mark , it will keep me busy all weekend for sure 🙂
I liked Dale roberts post about the dividend aristocrats it’s something I’m thinking about and the first three companies that comes to my mind is JNJ P&G and KO mostly because I’m so familiar with the products and so does most of the population globaly, it’s going to be intresting to try the norbert gambit method and here I like to ask if this is what you use Mark or is there something better and easier in order to buy US stocks directly ?
yeah this would be my next step in my RRSP as for my TFSA I’m planning on adding couple more Canadian stocks and I wanna add to my position in Telus.
I’ve personally owned JNJ and PG for over a decade. Not recommendations for purchase but I do like the predictable cashflow from these companies as semi-retirement draws near. Otherwise, beyond a few more U.S. stocks Gus I’m really indexed in my RRSP with lots of VTI and QQQ. Just easier that way.
I’m a huge fan of Telus and own a bunch, maybe almost 2,000 shares now but I would need to confirm that 🙂
I don’t look at my portfolio very much now. Everything is pretty much on autopilot. Dozens of stocks and ETFs DRIPping away!
Here is my Gambit post!
Thanks for the link Mark,
for me as well I’m indexed in my RRSP as i have about 1800 shares of VUN (VTI) which it did pretty well but I wanted to add a few solid US companies.
I agree Telus is a solid company and the share price / dividends is excellent , i also was looking into starting a position in Rogers but I’ve noticed that their dividends is so stagnant maybe that’s why they don’t get any mention or much love from bloggers 🙂 at least for me all i see is talk about BCE and T .
That’s excellent re: VUN or VTI. Very well done. Yes, many bloggers are a fan of Telus over BCE, and either over Rogers given they are more growth oriented and have a good track record of sticking to their dividend increases.
Ha, Mark. I may be naive but I have never understood how it is possible to determine who contributed what on assets held in a joint unregistered acct if both people earned income and shared all household expenses over many years, if indeed that is in question. We have also built them up, sold all before, to retire debt many years ago, and have also sold individual names numerous times always tax claiming 50/50, without question. I do keep stock name, purchase/sale dates, $, share #, cost base details-basic stuff.
Our finances, bank accts, credit cards, previous mortgage etc have always been 100% joint, outside of our registered accts (TFSA’s & RRSP’s), where we have each other as beneficiaries/successor holders.
Therefore I cannot see how it would be possible to truly determine any kind of real attribution split outside of 50/50% that we both agree on for all. Maybe it wouldn’t even make any real difference.
Funny MM, that’s probably true on financial community being best prepared for leverage and many being against it. That includes this guy! But I’m from the generation that paid 12% interest on mortgages and hasn’t had debt for decades.
Ya, our savings and chequing are both joint but my non-registered is not. We also have beneficiaries/successor holders for everything else as much as we can.
I can’t imagine paying 12% interest on a mortgage! Long since done though for you! 🙂
I can’t imagine it now either. Its why I took a 10 yr and paid it in less than 6 years which was 27 years ago. Done.
Amazing. That’s the discipline that got you to where you are!
Probably the same as you and many people posting on this site.
We took 15 years of amortization and I forgot we paid it off in how many years. Definitely less than 10. After that, there are many years we just put money in money market. Were very bad on the investment part of our finance.
I have been also very uncomfortable with any debt. Borrow for consuming is out of question. The only debt other than mortgage we ever took is car loan with very low interest rate. I am still paying this car loan with 0.99% interest rate.
It took me lots of courage and a long time to be prepared to begin to play a little bitwith margin. It makes investment more fun but of course more risky too. I am not sure yet where I will end up with.
Similar here May. My first and only car loan was 46 years ago when I was 16 and my mom co-signed for me.
Good for you on the margin. You’re cautious, careful and very wise and I’m sure will work well for you. I’ll never get there myself. The stats on the amount of consumer debt and margin/leverage in the stock market now both concern me greatly. It seems to me it will exaggerate any correction.
I’m with you Deane. I mean, I might borrow to invest but I won’t likely run any calls or options. It’s just not me. This is not to say you cannot be successful this way.
I figure I’m busy enough with x1 full-time job, this blog (another job), another small venture over at Cashflows & Portfolios (yet another job).
I need time to golf, bike and then drink my craft beer too!! 🙂
I agree people can be successful that way and very possibly so could I. I’ve been tempted many times with borrowed leverage and have a HELOC for a lot years (that I’ve never used). You’ve heard me say it many times and I always come back to – do I really NEED to do that? Because it does carry some additional risk and our life is absolutely fine without. Plus I recall how disciplined we were just to get out of debt.
Ha on the fun things. Sounds awesome. Absolutely true. Good on you for doing so much and such a great job on what you do. Same on personal fun stuff- had a blast this afternoon partying with neighbours. A frequent occurrence. LOL
You don’t NEED it and more importantly, you don’t feel fun to do it. So definitely NO.
For me, it’s more a fun game than getting ahead financially. I don’t feel I NEED to getting ahead either. I am already financially ready for a comfortable retirement. If I made extra money, that’s just some nice bonus in addition to having fun.
I get that. Great to have fun that you can also have a chance making some extra money as a bonus.
Congratulations on being ready. Awesome to read.
Thanks for the mention Mark! I know you’re against using leverage at this time, and I would probably agree that it is not appropriate for most people. However, when one is on top of registered accounts, at a comfortable point in their mortgage, and using the margin account for investing. Then it may be time to use some of that dead equity you have sitting around. While understanding the risks, one also has to be in a position of weather the storm, should you have to deal with market downturn, or defaults in private lending. Leverage sure is a powerful tool if it’s used properly. I find it a little ironic that the most financially literate people I know from the PF and FI community are dead set against leverage. Yet, they are probably the most competent and suited to using it. All the while there are loads of people in Canada extending their leverage to buy toys and renovations…
Great stuff and comment MM. I don’t mind leverage, I was just thinking that most Canadians can’t handle debt on a good day 🙂
I will probably borrow to invest in the coming years (as I need to) to meet my income goals for semi-retirement. No harm in borrowing any amount of money assuming a) you know the risks, and b) you can payback your load quickly if needed should something go amiss.
I am getting my toes in the water a little bit with leverage to invest. As I explained another day, I have sold put with margin as an experiment in my margin account. I have sold CM Jan 21 2021 145 strike put for 7.35 in June with buying power as I don’t have enough cash to cover it. I don’t even need to pay interest if this will not be put on me. I have CM in my RRSP account. If things go well then I got extra return (8% annualized on borrowed money), if things go worse I consider this is a way to harvest capital loss while I still hold the equity in my RRSP. We will see what happens coming January. And I might or might not rinse and repeat this.
Ever since I paid off my mortgage, and has a sizable HELOC I never touched yet, I have thought a lot about using the assets in my house to invest and never gathered enough courage to try it until recently. Maybe that’s a signal the market is at its top and will go down. LOL. Anyway, I don’t really need to do this. On the other hand, I think I can afford to do this so being tempted. Just testing this out right now. But in the future, might do this on a bigger scale.
One thought is to have the house to support itself. Our house is our home for sure, but it’s also our biggest asset which has a negative cash flow even without a mortgage. It would be nice if we could use that asset to generate some cash to pay the insurance, utility bills, maintenance etc.
Another thought is to help to speed up RRSP meltdown. Our RRSPs are already sizeable. Both of us still working so we are still contributing to RRSPs and they also continue to grow. I feel we won’t have enough time to draw down RRSPs before 71. We might want to use leveraged investing as a way to speed up RRSP meltdown.
But maybe it’s just because I never lived in a time of 12% interest rate. With my margin rate at around 1.5%, it’s very tempting to use that buying power. If I am indeed to be put CM at 145-7.35 = 137.65 cost, maybe I will just keep it as the 4%+ dividend yield can easily cover the interest and give me some extra changes to pay off a couple of months utility bills.
If I will borrow on a larger scale, I plan never to borrow more money than my HELOC though. This way, if things get worse I can pay the margin back using my HELOC so hopefully I will never get a margin call.
I like it. Why not use that cheap margin and low transaction cost at IBKR to sell naked puts on underlying you don’t mind owning. Cheaper than using money from my HELOC!
Good idea using the leverage to help with the RRSP meltdown, but you’ll have to move significant sums to generate enough of a tax deduction. Where you invest that large of a sum? Definitely could be a market timing issue, and a psychological one.
I went to listen to your podcast after replying above. Great show and very educational.
Don’t really have a detailed plan yet where I want to invest that large sum if I ever want to leverage to speed up RRSP meltdown. Just thinking about that possibility. I need to become comfortable with leveraged investment first. And you are right, I need to borrow a significant amount for that purpose. I will see which level I will be comfortable enough.
CM put is just an experiment I did. If we want to borrow to invest, before retirement, I would like to invest in stocks with higher growth, I am thinking about a ETF in technology or individual blue chip high tech companies like FAANMG as I really don’t want to generate more investment income from our taxable account. We have dividend growth stocks as our core holdings to be prepared we might retire tomorrow. But as long as we don’t retire yet, investment income from taxable account is actually reducing our return as we are paying high tax on it. After retirement, we might switch to have more dividend growth stocks.
I just finished to calculate our investment income and expenses for September. This year so far, our investment income from all accounts is more than our expenses. But our expenses this year are still low due to the pandemic. Our goal is to have investment income to cover at least basic expenses in retirement. If we also leverage to invest, then the investment income should be able to cover both basic expenses and the interest on the borrowed money. This way, we can hold the investment for long term.
Your experience with private lending is very interesting. Does that require lots of work on your side? When we sold our old house, the buyer had a difficult time to get the loan and we had appraisers from different banks coming to our house three times. It’s suggested that the buyer could use a private loan from us as the seller. I refused the idea as I am not comfortable enough without knowing how to control the risk of this.
Sounds like you are in an excellent position for retirement! Congrats.
Private lending isn’t a lot of work, but it is important to know how to value and assess the deal. A critical piece of the puzzle is having a good (mortgage) broker. The broker is the first point of contact for the borrower, so it is up to the broker to procure all the applicable documents. Such as: Appraisals, pay stubs, bank records, credit reports, existing mortgages etc. A good broker will do the initial due diligence and decide whether the borrower has sufficient LTV (loan to value) and is a good candidate for a successful repayment. At that point the file is forwarded to the lender. As the lender you then have to assess whether you are willing to accept the risk. I measure the risk in two ways, first, I assume the worst case, that I may end up owning the home. Which will also entail me being able to cover the first mortgage during foreclosure. So I make a property assessment of the location, value, condition, mortgage etc. If I’m okay with owning it (worst case), then I look at the borrowers financial situation, and the reasons why they are seeking a 2nd mortgage. If I can check all the boxes, then I move forward. From that point on, it is just monthly cash flow for 1 year. All the legal work is handled by the broker, so there are no other complications or costs on my side of the deal. One caveat to it all is having some understanding of the foreclosure laws in the province you are lending in, as they do vary.
I personally enjoy the assessment of the deals, and I like being very hands on and DIY with my finances. I definitely wouldn’t suggest private lending to those who don’t want to spend some time learning, and engaging with other experienced lenders.
Thanks. I almost retired this year but decided to continue to work a few more years. Nowhere to go with the pandemic anyway. I am lucky that I am able to switch to a less stressful position while I am getting older now and the least I want is to get stressed from a job that I don’t really need anymore. I am making plans to go to Europe, Japan and other places once the pandemic is over. Continue to work provide the financial means for that without digging into our savings.
Thanks a lot for the detailed information about private lending. We never want to be a landlord so I guess this is not for us. It’s always nice to see how other people investing in different ways.
Another thing I tried: when CNR went down around $130, I added to my CNR position and also began to sell puts on CNI $105 and $110 strike. I figure those are good prices to hold if I am put. I have made more than annualized 12% return on CNI puts with borrowed money. Now CNR is up a lot and it’s not worth a while to sell put with $110 strike anymore.
Still trying to figure out which strategy is better: with borrowed money, just buy CNR at $130, or selling put. The potential return on selling put is lower, but looks to me it’s a safer strategy as I will be buying CNR at lower price or be able to keep the premium otherwise. In the other hand, buying the stocks takes less time and effort, as it can be a set and forget strategy.
Are you going to continue the calls on CNR or CNI? Why not buy and hold and keeping buying more of each May?
I have CNI put expire Oct 15, which looks like will expire worthlessly. After that, I will see the price of CNI at that time. Maybe not continue this anymore. I think CAD$130 is a very good price, under $140 is still fair, around $150 looks expensive to me. I might begin to sell CP puts after that.
I did add to my CNR position using my own money around $130 and used up my cash. As that price is very good, I feel it’s pretty safe to use margin on CNR. Two choices:
Buy CNR directly and hold. Worst case scenario: CNR is not go up or even go down for a long period, while I keep paying interest on the borrowed money. The interest rate is low right now, but might go up in the future.
Sell put on CNR or CNI. Worst case scenario: The price goes down a lot and I am put the stocks. I ended up with the same worst case scenario as buying CNR directly but at a lower cost.
The selling put worst case scenario is better than buying and holding worst case scenario. With borrowed money, I wanted to be prepared for worst case scenario and try to avoid the worse worst one, instead of chasing higher return. It might sound ironic when I say I want to play it safe with borrowed money. As leveraging to invest is considered risky by its nature. But even then, one way could be safer than another. That’s why I sold puts instead of buy the stocks directly. Between CNR and CNI, as CNI options have more volumn and lower commission, I chose to sell CNI puts instead of CNR. I began with selling $105 put, and raised to $110. It worked out pretty good. Made couple thousands USD. After paying capital gain tax, enough to buy that iphone 13 pro max I am eyeying for. 🙂
Thanks for asking me this question. If I bought CNR at $130 directly using borrowed money, I would have better return, so yesterday I was wondering maybe selling put was not the right choice. Today by answering your question, I have clarified my thoughts at that time, and confirmed this is the RIGHT choice for ME.
My head hurts now after trying to follow this. Good for you on understanding and playing it to your advantage.
I have to understand it and also figure out all possible outcomes and be sure I can accept the worst-case scenario before I do it. After all, I am very close to retirement. Don’t want to ruin it by taking unnecessary risk.
Whatever the process is – RIGHT for YOU is key 🙂
I suspect CNR or CNI should be higher over time. We need goods shipped. Rail is a great way to do it.
“With borrowed money, I wanted to be prepared for worst case scenario and try to avoid the worse worst one, instead of chasing higher return.” No, I get that.
Selling CNR (?) at $105 put was likely very good indeed May!
CNI is the symbol on NYSE for Canadian national railway. They are the same stock and exchangeable. You can use CNR/CNI to do Norbert’s gambit. CNR on NYSE is
Cornerstone Building Brands. This is similar to Telus is T on TSE, TU on NYSE. T on NYSE is AT&T.
Yes, now I understand re: NYSE. Inter-listed stocks to Gambit.
For me it’s more of a question of whether I want to hold the underlying or not. If I want to own it long term I will either just buy it at market value (when deemed reasonable), or sell close to the money naked puts with short expiry. In general, I’m not using the margin in that account to purchase equities. I just want to have the buying power to hold a lot of naked puts, with the intention of them expiring OTM, or rolling them if necessary. Then I pay no interest, but I am using the buying power to generate cash flow. I use my HELOC to invest in equities, etc for long term hold. One could argue that the margin rate at IBKR is better than my HELOC rate, so I should use that instead. But I am trading for cash flow, and investing for growth, so I think it makes sense to ME.
If I understand you correctly: you borrowed from HELOC to buy equities, then with the margin baked up with the equities, you sell puts?
Same as you, if I sold puts, the underlying stocks have to be something I can hold for long term. Not only that, I will only sell it for a reasonable price. My intention is also for them expiring OTM, or rolling them if necessary.
I want to be prepared for the worst scenario though. If the stock price down a lot in a very short time, and the option is deep ITM, I might end up of assigned the underlying stocks. I want to be comfortable to hold the stock with the price of strike – premium. I also need to be able to hold them long term without a margin call.
You are still very young and have a long way from retirement so I understand you can take more risk than me. I will play this very carefully and be sure my core holdings for retirement will never be touched. So for myself, the maximum buying power I will ever use will not exceed the size of my HELOC.
No, I have multiple margin accounts. I use the HELOC, which is joint, to buy long term holdings, usually globally diversified ETFs. In the other account I have cash/equities backed margin that I use as the buying power for options trading. The HELOC would be the backup, to the backup, to the first backup plan.
Yes, I totally agree that if the price moves against you quickly, one would have to be comfortable with buying the underlying on margin. And subsequently holding for a long term, or at least until the price recovers. This risk is what I use to determine the amount of buying power is prudent to use, and still retain enough in reserve to protect from long downturns and potential margin call. As you stated before, if you end up owning a quality blue chip stock, likely the dividend will cover the cost of the margin interest anyway. Alternatively I could start trading spreads to protect the downside.
At this point I find options very interesting and am learning about lots of different strategies. It’s another way for me to generate cash flow at the moment. Eventually I’ll probably just revert to simple index funds and dividend investing and spend my mental bandwidth elsewhere.
Do you sell any covered calls? Although this seems like another way of lowering ACB and generating cash flow, I think there is a lot of risk of missing upside on core holdings. And possibly being out of a position and missing dividends. I’m reserving this for high IV underlying that I don’t want to hold, but end up getting assigned.
I don’t want to mess up my core holdings so I don’t normally sell covered calls. But I do have a difficult time to sell when stock price is high. So if I am hesitating to sell a stock, I will sell a covered call instead.
For the CM put position, I actually sold CM Covered call in my RRSP. I was holding right now all six banks and want to consolidated to only RY, TD and NA. So I was hesitating to sell CM or not when it’s around 145. That’s when I sold CM CC in my RRSP and also sold CM put in my taxable account.
I am very new to this option game, and it’s fascinating to learn so many ways to play options. I only want to play it in very prudent way for now though. So didn’t do any fancy strategy yet.