December 03, 2020

12-Minute Balance (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 May 12, 2012

Many believe that one of the most important keys to happiness is balance. Sadly, many lives equate to a never ending juggling act struggling in search of that so elusive concept.  

The 12-Minute Approach offers you simple yet powerful ways to achieve that so precious balance in your life.

Let’s hope that, by focusing on rhythm, order and harmony, these 12-Minute Ideas help you strive toward that balance so essential to your happiness and well-being.

Equal Balance between Needs and Activities

In order to stay happy yet still be effective, your life should be equally balanced between your needs and your activities.

November 12, 2020

Portfolio Update November 2020

 



Again, it’s DIY Portfolio report time!  As usual, you can expect our next update in about 12 weeks.

You can have a look at previous portfolio updates here:

All Portfolio Updates

Portfolio Update August 2018

Portfolio Update November 2018

Portfolio Update February 2019

Portfolio Update May 2019

Portfolio Update August 2019

Portfolio Update November 2019

Portfolio Update February 2020

Portfolio Update May 2020

Portfolio Update August2020

Note that the last words of this report have been written on November 1st, before the US presidential election.

Despite all unprecedented events, our DIY Portfolio is still in the positive this year, which is surprising. Year-to-date capital return is around zero and are modest return essentially comes from dividends. Not that bad waiting for better days.

It would be doing even better if it were not for the last week of October where it abruptly went down by a little more than 4%.  We can sense markets are getting nervous about the upcoming US election. Contested results would probably cause the most turbulence. That’s why today, we’ll try to reason not giving into fear, essential for any successful investor.

After that, we’ll discuss our own portfolio management for the upcoming months and years. For now, let’s just say things are not getting simpler. We’ll conclude with our usual roundup of portfolio transactions. You’ll see we have been doing a little bit more lately.

Once more, I’ll remind you that I am not an investment or tax professional of any kind. The intent of this blog is not to give specific investing advice. Before investing yourself, we suggest you do all necessary research and consult a licensed financial professional if need be. 

Resist Giving into Fear

With all that is happening in the world, you may be tempted to give into your fear and cash in all your investments. We have to confess that even us, as committed investors, are sometimes afraid and have our moments of doubt.

We still believe you have to resist and remain patient as efficient investing always has to be approached with a long-term perspective.

When you are in a situation where your life is in immediate danger, your instinctive fear can help you get out of arms way. For instance, this is great when a bear is lurking, and you go away before it gets too close.

Unfortunately, our primal instincts may not serve us well as investors. In fact, they are mostly in the way.

To some extent, as investors, we should fear our instincts, not the next market crash. Being afraid can prevent us to embrace remarkable opportunities provided by every market crash.

Remember that people who loose money on the stock market often panic sell and buy in euphoria.

You can’t wait for perfect conditions to invest or reinvest in the markets because so-called perfect weather never exists in investing. Look at the last few years. There always have been good reasons to worry and not to be invested. Yet people who stayed on the sidelines listening to their afraid inner voice missed out on solid returns.

We expect occasional storms on the market and prepare for them. In fact, we like they can provide us amazing buying opportunities. So, don’t fear the upcoming big market crash. Just embrace it as it could provide you cheaper entry points in the markets for your favorite stocks.

Shuffling Positions

On a completely different front, a phenomenon has started to complicate our portfolio management even though we have been anticipating it for while. A lot a money is coming in and out of our various investment accounts.

Let’s give you some insight to let you understand better. For one thing, Lady C is now in college so that means RESP withdrawals have begun. In my case, because I work less, RRSP withdrawals are now a reality too. Soon, I will also have access to manage pension plan funds from a previous employer.

We don’t need much if any of that money to live. We still are making withdrawals from registered accounts for fiscal efficiency. It’s better to pay a little tax now that a lot more later. So, a lot of withdrawal money will be investing right back in TFSAs.

This all means quite a lot of juggling. We have to liquidate some positions before withdrawals and buy some of it right back after that money arrives in our TFSAs. We have to be extra careful with the timing of all those operations. For instance, a stock surging after we liquidated it could mean losing money if we don’t buy it back in time. And volatile markets are no help to avoid those risks.

So far, we have managed to use our available liquidities to move all that money smoothly. Most of the time, withdrawals and corresponding buybacks can be almost simultaneous. But we have to admit it can be a tad confusing and complicated.

In that context, maybe index investing could make things a lot easier for us.

Despite indexing would be much simpler, we have been reluctant to abandon our dividend stock investing strategy because we think it provides us better results. In our mind, indexing would give us long-term returns around 8%. Not bad but quite lower than our 12%ish portfolio return.

This may all change with some of our recent research and discoveries. We will look further into it in the next few months, but we realized luck and where we invest our money may be more important than our ability the selection individual stocks.

For instance, as we talked about in our August 2020 Portfolio Report, our Canadian content return as only been around 9% which is much closer to our benchmark indexing return. There is still a difference, but the gap is much narrower. Our US content did a lot better at about 14%. Yet again, is it much better compared to a US benchmark? We don’t clearly know.

In the end, maybe we were lucky to invest that much in the US and that boosted our overall return to a 12% mark. Did currency conversion also boost our US return? Maybe a tad.

Another point to consider is that because TFSAs are not that fiscally efficient for US stocks, maybe our US content will start to proportionally come down from now on.

We don’t have definite answers to all this. We now only can say it will require some additional reflection and inquiry.

Portfolio Additions and Subtractions

As we eluded to before, we did more than simple arithmetic this quarter with our complexifying situation. Note that equal or close to equal artificial stock transfers will not be discussed here.

Let’s talk about some of the recent moves we made.

Trying to diversify our financials, we initiated a position in Intact Financial (IFC). IFC is one of the dominant players in property and casual insurance in Canada and its financial metrics suit our prudent style. For a while, we were looking at life insurance companies to play that role in our DIY Portfolio but life insurers seem to remain too variable for our taste. They especially depend too much on interest rate levels.

We also looked into technology to diversify our holdings within different sectors. Many players in that industry now utilize subscriptions which means repetitive much more sustainable revenues. With that in mind, we initiated a modest position in Intel (INTC) on the US market. Intel, renowned microprocessor giant, has now diversified towards data-centric businesses and that portion of their revenues is growing fast. Using short-term lenses, INTC has been quite volatile lately as it’s not crystal clear how they are doing. But that robust corporation should still do very well in the long run.

On the Canadian side of things, we opted for Open Text (OTEX). OTEX is even a tad riskier play. Relying a lot on repeating subscriptions, OTEX is expanding rapidly and somewhat seems pandemic protected.

On a maintenance level, we sold some McDonald’s (MCD) because it had grown too much and occupied a too big portion of our portfolio.

We finally pulled the trigger on Pfizer (PFE) and Nutrien (NTR). They had been on our sell list for a while. Probably too long. They are simply fluctuating too much and don’t really fit our fairly conservative style.

In the telecommunications sector, we consolidated our position in Telus (T). We had a small position in Bell Canada (BCE) and bumped it up quite a lot.

In the present context, we also like utilities and boosted our participation in both Fortis (FTS) and Emera (EMA). The western Canadian economy has been suffering badly for a while and so did Calgary-based Canadian Utilities (CU). So, we gladly replaced CU with Alqonquin Power & Utilities (AQN) which is more into renewable energies.

November 03, 2020

Housekeeping 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 April 12, 2012


Living in a clean environment can contribute to your well-being and happiness but proper housekeeping takes time.

So, here are some 12-Minute Ideas to keep your house neat and tidy. Hope this helps make your home more peaceful, relaxing and inspiring.

October 12, 2020

12-Minute Financial Makeover Step 6 - Ease Your Mind with Debt Freedom Plan

This is the 6th installment of our Financial Makeover Series featuring carefully selected personal finance subjects. We hope talking about these basic principles can allow you to figure out what can help the most in your own unique situation.

We talked about avoiding fees in Part 1 and how using a no-fee online checking account could help you so.

Part 2 featured spending more on things you truly love using a fun budget approach.

We continued in Part 3 with the amazing freedom of budget choices that can allow you to realize more of your projects and dreams.

Part 4 talked about emergency savings and having a personalized contingency plan.

Part 5 suggested to hammer down boring big recurring expenses.

After these, we now feel ready to abort an even more challenging subject. So, let’s put on our armor, sharpen our sword and face on the dreaded debt beast.

 

The Right Mindset


Having too much debt is probably today’s biggest financial problem of too many families. We did not start our Financial Makeover Series here because we believe it’s better to have developed some tools before tackling on dreaded debt.

 

With some confidence in your abilities, getting out of debt can be quite straightforward. You just have to allocate money in the right way to achieve it.

 

We know getting out of debt may seen difficult or even impossible for some. Many are even addicted to debt. They know extensive use of it is bad for them yet became comfortable bathing in it. Sadly, they are so afraid about getting into that battle.

 

But after you get over that steep psychological hurdle, getting rid of debt becomes basic math. You have to believe and decide you can get out of debt. No one can do it for you. You have to commit and do it for yourself and your family. The good news is that you have that power in you.

October 03, 2020

12-Minute and Your Schedule (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 March 12, 2012

The 12-Minute Approach can be applied tons of ways to your schedule. We will submit you some ideas here but the possibilities are almost endless.

Why 12 Minutes

Using the 12-Minutes Approach will allow you to be more efficient; doing something different only 12 minutes every day can produce surprising results.

If you break down your day in 12-Minute Periods, you’ll find that there are 120 such Periods:

1 day = 24 hours x 60 minutes =
24 hours x 5 x 12-Minute = 120 x 12-Minute


September 12, 2020

12-Minute Financial Makeover Step 5 - Slash Boring Expenses to Relieve Pressure

Our Financial Makeover Series features carefully selected personal finance topics. We hope talking about these basic principles can allow you to figure out what can help the most in your own unique situation.

In Part 1, we discussed avoiding fees and using a no-fee online checking account.

Part 2 pointed out how no-fee savings accounts and a fun budget approach could allow you to spend more on things you truly love.

We followed up in Part 3 with budget choices and the amazing freedom it can provide to realize your projects and dreams.

Part 4 suggested to start and build up emergency savings in accordance with your own crap-happens plan.

Today we’ll talk about expenses and propose ideas, hopefully inspiring, to reduce them.

We know a lot of people have a very hard time cutting down their spending as it can be simply too painful to them. But oftentimes, just focusing on boring expenses can give you the spark and motivation to get the slashing process going.


Getting More of What You Love

As we already highlighted in Part 2, getting more of what you love is the key here. So, try to focus on getting more resources like precious time and money!

 

On the cash front, reviewing your expenses and slashing unnecessary ones can be a straightforward way to free up big bucks to attain more of that.

 

An even more motivating approach is to concentrate your expenses carving on the boring kind. After all, cutting down on expenses that don’t provide you much joy should be much easier.

 

Working hard to tackle down your expenses should also help take out much of the guilt associated to spending. Enjoying more of what you love is not a sin, especially if you worked hard to achieve so.

 

As you can see, boring-expense money could provide some leeway and ultimately allow you to spend more on what you love. That’s plain and simple!

 

Fun Right After Necessity First

 

In all of this, you still have to prioritize essential spending.

 

You have no choice to spend some money on what you and your family, essentially need. There’s no way around it.

September 03, 2020

Workout 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 February 12, 2012

Whether you want to lose some weight or be in better shape, a simple solution exists:

Add a 12-Minute Workout to your daily routine!

Taking an extra 12 minutes a day or 1 hour a week to work out can greatly improve your figure and your general health.

August 12, 2020

Portfolio Update August 2020



Time flies as we again report on our DIY Portfolio progress.  In a similar fashion, you can expect our next update in about 12 weeks.

You can have a look at previous portfolio updates here:


We are kind of glad to take a break from this unusually hot and humid summer. Luckily, our air-conditioned home can keep us cool. It may not be the case for everyone, and some would even prefer to get back to their more comfortable office. This unexpected crisis really forced many of us to experience the pros and cons of working from home.

Lots of companies have to reform their entire business model in these changing times. Some still thrive and even found unforeseen ways to reduce their costs. Others, not so much. Maintaining some level of sales or surviving till things get back to the new normal may be the key for most.

Despite all uncertainties, a lot of positives may be coming out of this year’s turmoil. For one thing, we were kind of obliged to adopt environment friendly solutions like telecommuting. A sense of solidarity also greatly developed in several communities. Even more important for humanity’s sake, you know who will probably get kicked out.

The next big question for many worried investors is how will the markets react to all of this?

Once more, I’ll remind you that I am not an investment or tax professional of any kind. The intent of this blog is not to give specific investing advice. Before investing yourself, we suggest you do all necessary research and consult a licensed financial professional if need be.  

Still Going Strong

Our answer is still somewhat the same: we don’t really know but don’t care that much.

What is important is that we remain confident our DIY Portfolio will fare well in the long haul, no matter all these short-term interrogations.

August 03, 2020

12-Minute Basics (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 January 12, 2012

Help To Change 

By suggesting simple methods and unique ideas, the 12-Minute Approach will help you implement change and improve.

For exemple, for most people, the optimum concentration period is only 12 minutes. That is, the time they can really focus on a task.

July 12, 2020

12-Minute Financial Makeover Step 4 - Keep Cash Flowing with Crap-Happens Plan

Our Financial Makeover Series talks about personal finance basics and lets you figure out what applies best to your own unique situation.

In Part 1, we pointed out to avoid fees as much as possible, especially the devastating recurring ones. We also suggested to open a no-fee online checking account.

In Part 2, we followed up by proposing to use no-fee savings account to organize the projects that provide you pleasure. We insisted on how budgeting can allow you to spend more on things you truly love.

We continued on a similar theme in Part 3, telling you that budget choices can make you feel awesome and emphasized on how it could provide you more freedom.

This time, we’ll talk about another way to liberate yourself from financial worries setting up a solid custom-made contingency plan.

In the financial realm, we often hear about that basic concept to set up a rainy-day fund. Some might argue that their financial days are already rainy, if not stormy.

But we really believe starting an emergency fund can be a great first step to getting out of the hazardous living-paycheck-to-paycheck spiral.

The object is not to obsess about risks. In fact, your own crap-happens plan could allow you to forget about possible misfortunes and free you up, allowing you to truly taste and appreciate life joys and ventures.

Try to Get Money Worries Out of Your Way

We know many of you worry about money even in normal situations, some even worry about finances all the time.

The main objective of the financial aspect of your contingency plan should be set enough money aside to allow yourself to focus on living through tough situations and fixing things for you and your family. Your contingency fund should allow to relieve financial pressure as much as possible in these bad situations.

It’s impossible to anticipate all eventualities, especially the worst ones. But, having some and enough money stashed away for those bad periods sure may help to cope with any situation. No matter how bad it can be.

For instance, losing your job can be very tough both financially and psychologically. Yet, having money aside should at least give you some time to get your act together and focus on finding a new job.

Another example would be if your fridge or car breaks down. Most people often have to move heaven and earth just to scratch sufficient funds for those kinds of repair. The actual hassle of just getting those things fixed is bad enough. At least get the money part of it out of your way.

Because it’s Much More Than About Money

You don’t have to become survivalists, but your contingency plan has to be more than about finances. For instance, everyone should have a plan in place to survive at home for 3-4 days.

July 03, 2020

12-Minute Principles (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 December 12, 2012

There's more to the 12-Minute Approach than great number 12. Some principles and premises also inspire this revolutionary method.

They are exposed here with some brief explanations:


1-Realize Your Dreams  

Having dreams is essential. Dreams give life a meaning. They give you a purpose and a sense of direction.

Planning to realize your dreams is also important. By setting goals and making plans, you’ll move closer to your dreams.

Your unconscious and intuition will guide you thru the venture even if you don’t possess all the details right now.

June 12, 2020

How I Learned Retirement Could Be Lonely

Please forgive me for being so personal today. In 2019, I completed my third leave of absence. A big long 8 months for that one after shorter but still extended 6-month periods on the first two occasions. You could say I already tasted retirement three times or at least semi-retirement.

I am very grateful for it. My first go at it in 2012 was quite enjoyable, but I have to say I often felt lonely during my last two prolonged stints away from work. I felt less lonely in confinement the last few months than during those last two leaves of absence. Maybe in part because my two ladies stayed at home with me but probably much more because I worked my butt off.

I was lacking the sentiment of making things better. I missed helping others. For me, it’s not just a question of being around people. It’s more about lacking being useful to society.

During our recent isolation, it was completely different. Many facets of that crisis were and still are unusual and tough yet, the fact my position allows me to help out others teleworking makes me feel a lot better.

It’s funning because before that, the psychological aspect of retirement was never on my mind. I would be the last person to talk about it. For me, retirement planning was all about money and accumulating enough of it to stop working. I was not even considering it and secretly laughed about others talking about it. I mean, how could it be a problem to be on vacation all the time?

Being Passionate About Helping Others

So, let’s face it! Retirement can make you feel lonely!

June 03, 2020

12-Minute and Your Career (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 November 12, 2012


The 12-Minute Approach offers you a multitude of techniques to improve your job and career.

Here are some ideas we hope will inspire you on the way to becoming real happy and efficient professionals in your respective fields.

Achieve A Little More Each Day

A quick and easy way to start improving right away is to take 12-Minute to accomplish one simple extra action each day.

May 12, 2020

Portfolio Update May 2020



Another quarter has gone by and it’s already time for a brand new DIY Portfolio report.  For quite a while now, we’ve been doing these about every 12 weeks.

You can access earlier portfolio updates here:


We tried to avoid as much as possible talking about the main thing in all our lives right now. We hear or read too much about it every day. Despite our strong intentions, you’ll see that it won’t be possible to ignore it. At this point, let’s just say that luckily, all our family is doing ok, and we hope yours can also remain safe and well.

So today, after sone comments about the current state of this unparalleled situation, we’ll talk about how our DIY Portfolio fared in these trying circumstances and how we’ve managed it so far during that wild ride. Surprisingly, our portfolio is only down about 3% year to date but the worst of it may still be coming.

You’ll see that despite being well prepared, we probably could have done better buying wise. We’ll also report on our new and recent experience with bonds.

Once more, I’ll remind you that I am not an investment or tax professional of any kind. The intent of this blog is not to give specific investing advice. Before investing yourself, we suggest you do all necessary research and consult a licensed financial professional if need be. 

An Unprecedented Test to Our Resolve

So far, the last few months have been a great test to our resolve. This is a tragic crisis and despite too many losses, Humanity’s resolve is still holding on so far. We are seeing numerous real-life examples of people that have the courage to fight not only for themselves but more importantly, for others. Let’s remain strong and continue combating because we may not see the end of it for another year or more.

May 03, 2020

Magical Number 12 (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 October 12, 2012

The more we look at it, the more Number 12 appears Magical!

In its original stages, our research revolved more around number 15.
But, as soon as we dug deeper, 12 evidently became the front running candidate. 

For one thing, a dozen always fits way better in a box!

More seriously, remarkable Twelve as deep roots throughout History; 
it even has some kind of mystical character associated to it.

The Number of Nature

April 12, 2020

12-Minute Financial Makeover Step 3 - Savour Freedom thru Budget Choices

Our Financial Makeover Series talks about personal finance basics and lets you figure out what applies best to your own unique situation.

In Part 1, we suggested to open a no-fee online checking account. The point is to avoid fees as much as possible, especially the devastating recurring version.

In Part 2, we talked about the pleasures of budgeting and how it can allow you to spend more on things you truly love. We proposed a no-fee savings account as one tool to organize in that fashion.

Today, we’ll talk about how budget choices can make you feel great. We hope you’ll see it can be an amazing way to exercise your freedom!

The Wonderful Power of Budget Choices

For most people, budgets are boring and restrictive. For us, our budget is fun because it helps us make wise and sometimes tough financial decisions so we can realize more of our dreams.

Try to view your budget as an essential versatile tool at the heart of each of your personal finance decisions. It’s the ultimate key to make everything work together. It’s not only about dollars and cents but rather more about dollars and sense.

As clearly as possible, your budget should be a concise representation of your financial reality and should help you manage your financial operations. Many may be afraid to face that reality and suffer from guilt. They prefer to live in denial and stick their head in the sand than to truly find out the extent of the damages.

But a budget can be the most efficient tool to know where you stand and the best way to start doing something to make things better. Your budget can give you the means to improve and help you take back power over your finances.

After retroactively accessing your present situation, an efficient budget will highlight your options to choose and can be the first step towards your financial well-being.

The objective is not to become perfect but rather to have the means to take decisions that can make things better. At worst, you’ll know more about the impacts of your financial choices.

Like we elude to in our last post of this series (Part 2), ultimately, budgeting should and can allow you to spend more money on things we truly love.

The Questionable Anti-Budget Cult

For many people, keeping a budget seems appalling. Some are even utterly against any form of budgeting. They think a budget will only limit their freedom. They prefer to let money flow.