April 24, 2018

Our Wonderful Disney World Holiday Venture (Part 2 of 2)

This is the second chapter of our latest Disney trip report which comes to you with just a few pictures but much more words. You can read the first installment here.

You’re probably eager to hear about all our best Disney advices.

Be patient as we first start by talking about our fantastic once-in-a-lifetime New Year’s Eve experience at Magic Kingdom.

After that, we’ll also get into discovering apparently infinite possibilities always pleasantly surprising us at Disney.

The New Year at Disney World

Spending New Year’s Eve at Magic Kingdom was an amazing experience. It sure gave us the chance to check off one major item from our bucket list.

In fact, I was personally so excited that a had a hard time sleeping and woke up for good at about 4:30 am that morning. I ended up being a little tired after the previous day airplane traveling and shopping at Disney Springs. All that adrenaline still kept me going but I remained a bit out of phase. My two girls laughed quite a lot about it because they are supposed to be the Disney nuts of the family. With retrospect, I would still qualify myself as the Disney planning nutcracker.

Because it is such a busy day, we had to plan New Year’s Eve at our preferred Disney park accordingly.

April 12, 2018

Our Wonderful Disney World Holiday Venture (Part 1 of 2)

As I said on several occasions before, going to Disney World is always exciting and a lot of fun. For us, it was even more special this time around as it was our first visit during the Holidays. My open schedule also allowed for some extensive planning and the freak planner in me really enjoyed the whole process.

Sorry it took a while to write these posts, but it gave me an excuse to continue savoring this magical once-in-a-lifetime trip even more.

We’ll do our best to give you a glimpse and pointers regarding our incredible experiences like our second visit ever to Cinderella’s Royal Table, the remarkable restaurant inside the famous Disney World castle or the fact we were finally blessed to land a dinner reservation at Be Our Guest.

Temperatures were cold, even sometimes freezing which is very rare and atypical for Florida, but it didn’t ruin our pleasure being Canadian and kind of prepared. You can read more about it in the second part of this brief Disney series that will include some of our best strategies and tips to accommodate any vacation at Disney, along with other always interesting Disney related topics.

As usual, we’ll use this opportunity to talk about Disney’s amazing values. In fact, let’s start with one of their most profitable ones.

April 03, 2018

Investing The 12-Minute Way (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 September 12, 2012

Keep It Simple

You should only use financial products you understand. So, stick to the basics. Complex and complicated products often only serve those who sell them.

Same goes for stocks, only invest in solid companies you know and understand.

In this great Internet/Information era, it’s relatively simple to get data on any public company. To stay effective, we recommend you only take 12-Minute when you first analyze a potential candidate for your portfolio or watch list.

March 24, 2018

Gradually Building Up a 12-Minute Workout Program

Till my late thirties, I remained quite fit. I had no real merit as exercising came easy to me. In fact, I always used to do it having fun, playing games or doing sports like golf, badminton, hockey, etc. 

A couple injuries and a knee surgery later, things were getting a tad more complicated. Predominantly due to a lack of time, of interest and opportunities, more and more, working out became a hassle. Far from being a workout maniac, I have to say gyms are not really my thing.

The problem is, even if you don’t like it, exercise is kind of mandatory for us, mere human mortals. Over time, I gained weight and my general health gradually deteriorated. My morale eventually started to be affected as I was increasingly prone to illness. I had to do something to get out of that lethal spiral. 

Then, the 12-Minute Method came to the rescue. I got the ball rolling with workout sessions of only 12-Minute every 3-4 days and progressively built up to 48 minutes every other day.

March 12, 2018

Think Twice Before Committing to The Home Buyers’ Plan

Today, we’re going to talk about one of our biggest financial mistakes over the years. It relates to the appealing Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP). Our young selves happily lunged into it acquiring our present house more than 15 years ago. At the time, it seemed like a very wise decision and the strategy provided us with a substantial chunk of change that greatly helped us in the short term. With retrospect, it now looks more and more like a very poor financial choice that considerably cost us in the long haul.

Everybody would love to, one day, have a nice home. For many, owning a big house is synonymous with financial success.

For most young folks, becoming a homeowner seems like a steep financial achievement and many may think it will remain only a distant dream. Then, they hear about the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) and their dream suddenly becomes more accessible. They see no-hassle free money that potentially can boost their house down payment (maybe a mistake). For some, the HBP may even provide the only cash to finance their once unattainable dream (definitively a mistake).

Fiscal Debt That Can Have Significant Long-Term Repercussions

The HBP allows you to avoid paying taxes on some RRSP withdrawals if you use those funds to buy your first house. After a two-year grace period, you have 15 years to repay your RRSP. The problem is that for most participants, the resulting tax bill will end up costing them much more in the future. The long-term implications and financial impact of that heftier tax bill cannot be ignored.

It makes no sense to withdraw from your RRSP avoiding only a 25-30% tax bill and later, to repay your RRSP with an ensuing 45-50% tax cost.

March 03, 2018

12-Minute Diet and Meal Planner (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 August 12, 2012

When it comes down to food, the 12-Minute Way can be quite useful to help you manage your diet and plan your meals. 

There’s more to it than the common dozen eggs.

Because approximately 40% of food goes to waste in America, an incredible opportunity for improvement exists in the vast food domain, an opportunity to save precious resources and money.

But also an opportunity to reduce stress and free up some of your schedule because, day after day, food preparation can sometimes be pretty hectic and time consuming.

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.

January 11, 2018

New Year and Dividend Income Update 2018

As usual, figures have been updated on several pages of our blog to reflect 2017 results.

Among others, these pages have been updated:

A tad sooner than expected, the accumulating phase of our investing plan is phasing out. Our DIY Portfolio should continue to steadily grow but our major contributing efforts are already a thing of the past.

January 03, 2018

12-Minute Meetings (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 June 12, 2012

Sometimes, meetings can be a drag, especially when your boss likes to listen to himself for endless and countless hours. Furthermore, he’ll probably be upset afterwards because you missed some of his points and you lacked time to complete all your work.

Maybe someone could introduce him to the 12-Minute Segment Rule.

Use The 12-Minute Segment Rule

During a meeting, each speech or presentation should be limited to 12-Minute segments because for most people, the optimum concentration period is only 12 minutes. Beyond that, the average person won’t be able to focus and follow explanations.