Weekend Reading – Phases of financial independence, podcasts on #FIRE, rent vs. own debates and more

Weekend Reading – Phases of financial independence, podcasts on #FIRE, rent vs. own debates and more

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.

Earlier this week, I published these articles:

What happens when passive investing takes over the world?  A senior manager from Vanguard has some thoughts on that in my post including why indexing investing is hardly an investing bubble.

I shared our latest financial independence (FI) update in my September dividend income update.  How are your cashflow plans coming along for retirement?  I’m looking forward to seeing how December 2019 eventually compares to last year:

Dividend Income December 2018

I hope you have a great long weekend and happy Thanksgiving here in Canada.  Definitely a time to be reflective and thankful for all that you have.  I will certainly be doing that.

Best wishes,


Weekend Reads

Great update by Rob and his Passive Canadian Income update.  I was particularly impressed by this: 

“In August (We always get paid a month later) our solar panel system generated 1,244 kWh. Since we bring in a fixed rate of 28.8 cents per kilowatt hour, Hydro One deposited $358.27 into our chequing account this month…”  Well done for your pocket and the environment!

Financial Mechanic wrote about her five stages of #FIRE.  I enjoyed the punchline:

“Don’t think of financial independence as an escape. It is actually an adventure onto something new. Forge new friendships, join local communities. Experiment to find out what fulfills you.”

Her thoughts align nicely with what I mentioned on The MapleMoney Show with blog pros Tom Drake (of Maple Money), Doug Nordman, of The Military Guide, and JD Roth, from Get Rich Slowly.  Check out our podcast together at the 2019 edition of FinCon about all things #FIRE and let me know your thoughts.

The Fioneers highlighted their favourite money milestones.

Money In Your Tea discussed the hot water heater rent vs. own debate.  They concluded:

“Purchasing a hot water heater seems to be the best route to go, financially. Especially if you can pay for it outright instead of needing a loan.”  Good post, but I look at things a bit differently on this.  I mean, do you rent your furnace?  Do you rent your oven or stove?  What about renting your air conditioner?  Your TV?  These things make no sense to rent because of the modest capital cost outlay and long life-use.  Please don’t rent your hot water tank.

On Jon Chevreau’s Findependence Hub, there was a great article comparing low-cost all-in-one ETF VAL here vs. the Mawer Balanced Fund – for one-stop shop investing.

A reminder you can find more details about some low-cost all-in-one funds including my partnership to save you big bucks with BMO InvestorLine here.

Congrats to A Purple Life who is now in Mexico enjoying her escape from corporate America.

Rob Carrick highlighted TD efunds are now more widely available but in my opinion they may not help you beat other lower-cost funds.

The Frugal Engineers offered some thoughts on where to live within the U.S. in early retirement.  I know for my wife and I, we are definitely cemented with Ottawa as our “home base” but would love to travel internationally in another few years for ~2-4 weeks at a time.  Ideally, in semi-retirement, we will have enough retirement income to travel to a warm destination for about one month in the winter, enjoy summers in Ottawa from May to October, and then in the spring or fall travel to another international locale for a few weeks.  Portugal has a great climate for our shoulder-seasons and Costa Rica is magnificent to escape Ottawa winters.

The FI Garage guys discussed an important topic for investors – over a few pints – asset allocation and were kind enough to mention how I treat my portfolio:

  • Non-registered account:  Canadian dividend paying stocks.
  • TFSAs:  Canadian dividend paying stocks and Canadian REITs.
  • RRSPs:  S. dividend paying stocks and U.S.-listed ETFs.

I had a reader email me recently asking if close to $1 M in the bank in their mid-50s with no pension was enough to retire on.  Well, here is an article on that very subject.  Compare notes!

Dale Roberts wrote a fine post about low-volatility Canadian ETF ZLB.  This is a BMO product that strives to deliver better risk adjusted returns, using a “rules based methodology to build a portfolio of less market sensitive stocks from a universe of Canadian large cap stocks.  OK…in layman’s terms, less volatility might deliver better returns.  Dale asked me if I would consider owning ZLB as my core Canadian ETF.  This was my Twitter response to him:

“I like $ZLB overall, a great fund, consider it almost like an “equal weight” fund as it applies to Canadian sectors like financials, utilities, consumer staples, and telcos. If our oil and gas industry makes you queasy, this is a great fund to own.”

Reader question of the week (adapted for site):

Hello, Mark

I have a question regarding diversity.  I have been following you for a while now and know you are a DGI (dividend growth investor), and have built up your dividends to a substantial amount for a 40-something.  That being said, are your stocks mostly Canadian? 

I am a new investor and have very few stocks of blue-chip Canadian companies.  Should I be concerned about diversifying my portfolio at the early stages of growing my dividends?  How important is it to diversify?  Do you have U.S. and international stocks in your portfolio?  Please let me know your thoughts.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Great questions!

Answers to these questions deserve their own blogpost, so I’m going to write that soon enough.  In the meantime:

Yes, about 60% of my portfolio is in Canadian content but I’m working to bring that number down to about 50% or just below that over time. (It used to be 100% Canadian content almost 10 years ago.)

Check out this article about how I intend to open up the investment taps at some point – I hope to have roughly a 50/50 mix of Canadian and U.S.-listed assets (including international holdings) compromised of 50% dividend paying stocks and 50% ETFs for extra diversification.

I don’t think you need to be concerned about diversification per se but think of diversification this way:  by doing so you can increase your potential returns while decreasing risk.  Look at portfolio diversification like a healthy diet – eating a variety of good foods over time increases the potential for your body to be healthy, but it won’t guarantee it.

Do I have U.S. and international stocks in my portfolio?  You bet.  You can find more details here.

Partnerships and deals

Speaking of BMO above, here are some options to consider when it comes to DIY investing or support for your investing journey based on my partnerships with Bank of Montreal (again, never an obligation).

Take advantage of these saving and investing deals!

Have a great weekend!


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.

4 Responses to "Weekend Reading – Phases of financial independence, podcasts on #FIRE, rent vs. own debates and more"

  1. Good stuff Mark. Looking forward to your blog post on diversification – the only free lunch. Did some research on my own as I was curious how much of retirement income might already came from outside Canada without intentionally investing in foreign markets. Was surprised to see that it was 35% – 40%. Many of my Canadian stock holdings have international business, 40% of my DBPP and 85% of CPP. Investors might have more diversification than they realize.
    Keep up the great work.

    1. Funny, that’s part of my article. Will CPP be less of Canada over time? I suspect so. I fully agree, investors in Canada might have more diversification than they think. That’s my thesis 🙂

  2. We bought our water heater as it made more financial sense- then it had issues and the labor costs to repair it wiped out that advantage. Renting with a service plan would have been cheaper. Labor’s never included under the warranty

    1. Definitely exceptions to the rule Geoff but I would think most homeowners are better off owning appliances and equipment directly.

      I know when we got our hot water tank it came with a 5-year warranty but yes, I don’t recall labour included.


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