February 24, 2018

Fixed vs Variable Mortgage Rate Mistake

In the fixed-versus-variable mortgage rate debate, one cannot argue that historically, variable rates have been a better long-term option. There’s still some risk associated to the variable option if interest rates happen to rise. With the fixed option, you are basically offered to pay a premium to kind of take out that risk.

But things are not that simple and obvious. In practice, rates would have to rise fast and rise a lot to really hammer down the variable option and make it the worse choice. In the end, in most cases, the fixed rate premium may simply be too costly. At least, that’s what we learned from our personal experience.

To make a long story shorter, we started our mortgage life using the optimal variable-rate option for the first 5 years. In 2006, we switched to a fixed rate afraid of a hike. In fact, that dreaded eventuality only manifested itself timidly more than 10 years later, in 2017. Choosing the fixed option was a mistake. That huge misstep cost us about 10K$ only in interest in the following 5 years. Because the amazing power of compound interest works both ways, our mistake surely cost us thousands more since then.

Drawing conclusions may be easy after the fact, but this is a classic case where your emotions get in the way of sensible financial decisions.

In late 2010, we were already convinced about Variable Rates being The Right Long-Term Choice For Our Mortgage yet we struggled and still made what appears like the safer choice locking in a fixed rate for 5 more years.  With retrospect, that decision was not as bad because the spread between variable and fixed rates remained much smaller. In the end, it looks like it will cost us only a couple hundred dollars more.

The great news is that our mortgage is now virtually paid off, eliminating additional opportunities to make the same mistake again and again.

Still on the bright side, we are doing very well financially despite several mistakes of the same magnitude. It looks like it's not about being perfect, but rather more about learning, working thru it and being good on average. 

Photo Credit

February 21, 2018

Utilities on Our Radar

By nature, steady utility stocks can provide a rock-solid base for any portfolio. They sure bode well with our long-term relatively conservative approach.

Usually, the problem can be to acquire them at attractive prices as they rarely fluctuate a lot and hence, get on sale. Luckily, things may be different lately as circumstances like changing interest rates and new US tax regulations are hammering down many utility stocks.

Most people may think it’s a bad thing as they won’t like seeing their stocks go down. But like us, savvy investors just see it as a unique opportunity to buy additional shares at low prices.

Many utility giants with a proven long-term track record will easily adjust and do very well in the long haul after these short-term setbacks.

Although we won’t stop using them in the near future, oil and gas alternatives are becoming less popular and won’t last forever. That’s why we now prefer corporations that focus more on electricity and renewable energies.

Here are some utility stocks on top of our Watch List right now:

February 12, 2018

Portfolio Update February 2018

Today, we are glad to provide you the latest update of our DIY Portfolio. As usual, our next update can be expected in about 12 weeks, in May 2018.

Meanwhile, you can have a look at previous portfolio updates here:

Somewhat surprisingly, the global markets context has not changed much in the last few months. Again, we are one trigger-happy finger away from disaster. So far, markets don’t seem to mind at all. We only saw some blemishes in the last days of January, perhaps more related to probable interest rate hikes. Are early February steep declines a hint of things to come?

February 03, 2018

12-Minute Ways to Have a Better Day (Revisited)

The 12-Minute Series was originally posted in 2012.

We’ve decided to republish it integrally because we believe it can still help as everyone aspires to make things better.

Let’s hope it stirs up the discussion and stimulates you to change the world 12-Minute at a time!

This article was originally posted on July 12, 2012

Here are some simple 12-Minute Ideas to help things go smoothly; to have a brighter and merrier day.

Sometimes, 12-Minute it’s all it takes!

1-Wake Up 12-Minute Earlier

This will allow you to take time to smell the roses and relax before you start your morning routine or
to take a little more time before you embark in a busy work day.  

2-Take 12-Minute to Breathe

Take a break during an hectic day and just breathe!

3-Invest 12-Minute to Plan Your Day

Plan you day early in the morning or the next one late at night.

January 24, 2018

Maximizing RRSP vs Minimizing Taxes

Contrary to popular belief, maximizing your RRSP may not always be synonymous with minimizing your taxes. Sure, your contributions will bring down your taxable income in the short run and you probably will get a refund soon, once you file your tax return. But after all is said and done, you may also end up paying more tax.

The good news is that, as far as RRSPs are concerned, fairly simple fiscal planning can go a long way. The key is to compare your present (or contribution) tax level with your probable withdrawal tax level.

Because taxes increase with your income level, ideally, you want to contribute when your income is high and withdraw when it is low. In the same fashion, you want to avoid unnecessary contributions when your income is abnormally lower and limit withdrawals in periods where your income is higher.  

January 12, 2018

The Powerful Nature of Ever-Present Number 12

Whether you’ve noticed it or not, all our lives revolve around omnipresent number 12. Moreover, despite the fact you can choose to ignore it or know zilch about the power of that mysterious number, the truth is that it may already be having an effect on you anyways.

And believe us, there’s more to it than the very convenient dozen.

Evidence Everywhere Around Us

In many previous 12-Minute Articles, we’ve listed examples and reasons why twelve is so omnipresent in our lives. Even if the phenomena can appear strange, it may not only be a mere coincidence. Here’s a couple additional ones.

For starters, you must realize you only dispose of 12 seconds to make a first impression. Furthermore, any respectable teacher or speaker must take into account that, even for adults, the optimal attention span is only 12 minutes. It’s even less for young children.