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Calgary Presentation and Learning Opportunity

Calgary Presentation and Learning Opportunity

For those in the Calgary area, please sign up for this unique presentation and learning opportunity, Aug 29 at Westman Village. Start the fall with new resolve:   Hope to see you!

Interview with My Own Advisor

Interview with My Own Advisor

Stocks for FUN and PROFIT: Questions and Answers about adventures of an amateur investor Fans of this site will know for many years now, I’ve reviewed a host of personal finance and investing books. Over years, these books have improved my financial IQ, matured my […]

Housing Affordability at Record Worst Levels

Housing Affordability at Record Worst Levels

I came across two articles this past week that deal with housing affordability and values across Canada. They are very much worth reading. The first one is from the Royal Bank discussing affordability. Housing in Vancouver and Toronto are now at their record worst level of affordability, surpassing the peak of the last housing boom in 1989-1990. After that bubble burst it took until 2000-2005 for housing to get back to previous levels, in the Toronto area. All the stats are in the RBC article.

The second article from The Globe and Mail,  discusses how Canadian housing is an anomaly in the world, and that ownership to rental costs have increased markedly. Both of these articles are a cautionary note for those considering purchasing in these two markets. Most other markets are still reasonable.

Despite lots of noise to the contrary, many stocks are still reasonably valued, especially in the Canadian market. Stock investing in a TFSA is a great way to save for a house while waiting for more reasonable valuations. History usually repeats itself, and an era of very high valuations is likely to be followed with a period of stagnating or declining valuations.

My book, “Stocks for Fun and Profit: Adventures of an Amateur Investor,” has numerous references to real estate, and one entire chapter dedicated to it. I have been an active real estate investor and wanted to share those experiences, in a similar way to the stock investing experiences. I do this in an effort to help others experience less knocks from the “School of Hard Knocks,” than I experienced in my investment journey.

Marketing Fear is Much Easier than Marketing Facts

Marketing Fear is Much Easier than Marketing Facts

(Photo: Pexels) This is an excerpt from my latest newsletter, expanding on how fear based media and marketing have become so prevalent. As I was leaving my book signing session on Saturday, the radio news featured a clip that went something like, “Experts predict that […]

Where in the World Should we Invest?

Where in the World Should we Invest?

(Photo courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art) This blog is the 5th in my series in Grainews. It beings together all previous columns written. Please share with others on your social media if you find it informative, and if you have read my book please write a […]

Stock Phobia Abounds

Stock Phobia Abounds

(photo courtesy of Pexels) This blog contains excerpts from my latest newsletter and an important message. Please share with others on your social media if you find it informative, and if you have read my book please write a review on the site it was purchased. Much Appreciated. 

A phobia is defined as an extreme or irrational fear of something. I googled phobias and there is a fear of money officially called chrematophobia, but no official fear of stocks so I will just refer to it as stock phobia.

Why are so many individuals afraid to invest in stocks when they represent one of the best wealth creation avenues available? The fear of stocks was highlighted by a recent Globe and Mail article written by Rob Carrick titled, “There’s no such thing as a low risk way to invest in stocks.” I had previously been in email contact with Rob and had sent him my book. After reading the article I sent him another email which is copied below:

Hi Rob

 Hope all is well. It’s been a while since I checked to see if you had a chance to look at my book, but I was prompted by your article in last Saturday’s Globe.

 While I generally appreciate and agree with what you write, I would like to debate “There’s no such thing as a low risk way to invest in stocks.” In the article “risk” and “volatility” are used interchangeably. In Chapter #28 of my book, “Is it Risky, Volatile or Both,” I argue that risk and volatility are completely separate entities, and in my concluding chapter I write, “The real risk resides in oneself and one’s reaction to volatility.”

 I know you are very busy, but would you be kind enough to read Chapter #28, and my concluding chapter, to see whether it might influence your thinking on this matter. The reason I think this is important is that the perception of risk keeps so many people out of stocks, and accepting the very mediocre results of interest bearing investments.

 By the way, I have pretty good company in my thinking. According to Warren Buffett, “Stock prices will always be far more volatile than cash-equivalent holdings. Over the long term, however, currency-denominated instruments are riskier investments – far riskier investments – than widely-diversified stock portfolios that are bought over time … That lesson has not customarily been taught in business schools, where volatility is almost universally used as a proxy for risk. Though this pedagogic assumption makes for easy teaching, it is dead wrong: Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.” (From article written by Dhirendra Kumar, April 28, 2016)

 Thanks and I look forward to your response.


A disconcerting trend is that direct stock ownership by individuals has declined dramatically over the past few decades. What I find perplexing is that the advent of internet investing has made direct ownership of stocks much cheaper and more accessible than 30 years ago. So while the ease and cost of direct investment in stocks has improved dramatically, the number of people doing so is in dramatic decline.

There are a number of plausible reasons for this phenomenon including the constant bombardment of information that makes investing sound more difficult than it is, and focusing on the fear, or negative side of the story. Whatever the reason, scaring people out of the stock market is keeping the middle class from achieving financial security. The only way to build financial security is through the ownership of income producing assets. Stocks represent one of the key classes of income producing assets.

One interesting statistic and article I read was, “The Richest 10% of Americans Now Own 84% of All Stocks,” from Money magazine. So here is the chicken and egg question, did they become wealthy and then invest in the market, or did they become wealthy by investing in the market? I would surmise that many, if not most, became wealthy by investing in the market. That begs another question, which side of the equation would you prefer to be on? Do you need to overcome chrematophobia, or stock phobia?



Build Your Portfolio with International Stocks

Build Your Portfolio with International Stocks

(Photo courtesy of Pexels) This was the fourth column in my series for Grainews. There are many reasons to diversify outside of the country. My first three columns have covered a lot of ground, but there is more to cover. The stock market presents endless […]

Starting Accounts

Starting Accounts

(Photo courtesy of Pexels) So you have emptied your piggy bank, read my book, and are now motivated to start a stock investing account. Or you already have accounts at a few different places and want to consolidate them to start managing yourself. Perhaps you […]

How do we Start Building…Secretively?

How do we Start Building…Secretively?

(Photo: Thinkstock)
This is the second column written for Grainews.

Get started soon, with a small portfolio, to build financial returns for your future.

Have you kept our secret? You know, our secret about building wealth over time in the stock market. The secret that it’s about buying common shares in solid companies, and holding them for a long time. The longer we can keep this secret the more time we will have to build our portfolios, before others catch on.

But how do we start building a portfolio of stocks? Like any construction project, we need the right building blocks. We want to build a resilient portfolio that will hold together in tough times and power forward in good times. We would like a portfolio that doesn’t need constant attention. After all we have our real job, our families and our farms to take care of. We don’t want to spend an onerous amount of time at this. We just want something straightforward and easy to do. How do we go about it?

The approach I take is similar to constructing a strong building. It starts with a solid foundation, then the best materials for the walls and the roof. After we have all the basics taken care of we can add a few options and decorations, to make the building more attractive and interesting, but the basics come first.

It doesn’t take a lot of money to start. I started my kids investing in stocks in 2010 at the ages of 13 and 16, with the princely sums of $1,953 and $4,933. Most of these funds were earned refereeing hockey and lacrosse. This was a great way to learn responsibility. City kids don’t grow up with as much opportunity for early responsibility as farm kids, and refereeing provided this opportunity, with a nice paycheck as a bonus. When they turned 18, the stocks were transferred as quickly as possible into their own Tax-Free Savings Accounts.

The best way for any new investor to invest smaller amounts with an eye to building significant portfolios over time is with the larger, highest quality companies. One of the most important things when starting out is to gain confidence and knowledge. When someone starts with high-risk stocks and loses, they often give up on the market altogether, and therefore give up the market’s great wealth creation abilities. It is best to start with stocks that have a high probability of success, and watch the dividends roll in. With success comes confidence and the potential to add more adventure — the options and decorations — at a later date.

How should these smaller portfolios be structured? I will make the following suggestions for small portfolios. These suggestions could be applicable for TFSA, RRSP, or a taxable account. As portfolios get larger, I suggest managing them differently in light of differing tax considerations, but to start there is less need for these nuances. (I own shares in all the companies noted and may also have options on them.)

Portfolios from $2,000 to $5,000

For portfolios in the $2,000 to $5,000 range, I recommend:

Canadian Bank: 40 per cent of portfolio. TD, RY and BNS have been my long-term favorites. The large Canadian banks have been very reliable performers, with good dividends.

Telecom: 30 per cent of portfolio. The big three in Canada are BCE, RCI.B (Rogers) and T (TELUS). I own all three in different portfolios.

Electric Utility: 30 per cent of portfolio. My two favourite in Canada are ACO.X (Atco) and FTS (Fortis).

Portfolios from $5,000 to $15,000

For portfolios from $5,000 to $15,000: Add in pipeline, transportation and insurance stocks.

Canadian Bank: 25 per cent.

Telecom: 15 per cent.

Electric Utility: 15 per cent.

Pipeline: 15 per cent of portfolio. The biggest are ENB (Enbridge) and TRP (TransCanada).

Transportation: 15 per cent of portfolio. Canada has two big railroads, CNR and CP. I own CNR and not CP. There’s not much to split the difference.

Insurance Company: 15 per cent of portfolio. The big three in Canada are SLF (Sun Life), MFC (Manu Life) and POW (Power Corp). Again I own all three in different portfolios.

In each case simply pick one company from the selection.


In my future instalments I will build in more diversification, including international companies, for larger portfolios. I can’t emphasize enough the ability to start small, building over time.

The annual percentage gains of our youngest son’s portfolio have been: 10.1, 7.1, 5.2, 8.7, 18.5, 11.1, 18.2 and 11.3. Today at 21, his TFSA is $30,000, almost double the invested capital.

We paid for the essential parts of his education, so has been able to save a lot of his summer earnings. Our eldest, at 24, has a TFSA worth $70,000.

Here’s another secret: Shh! Investing in stocks is not a rich person’s game, and if done correctly will help anyone build financial security. It’s a good time to start as many of the companies listed can be purchased below previous valuations. I like 20 per cent off sales!


Book and Blog Feedback would be Sincerely Appreciated

Book and Blog Feedback would be Sincerely Appreciated

My book, STOCKS for FUN and PROFIT ~ Adventures of an Amateur Investor, has been out since early November and I thought it would be great to hear from readers, your thoughts of the book and blogs so far. It has at times been the […]