It’s one o’clock in the morning. The bar is rocking. Three and a bit drinks deep — embracing the euphoria only a Saturday night buzz offers — you sense the crowd forming around you, cheering and chanting while your friend ensures the blindfold covering your eyes isn’t compromised.
Sixth in a row.
“This is unreal!” bellows a voice behind you.
Seven. Eight. Nine.
Every soul in the place is vying for a view of the action. Even the bartenders are gazing in awe. You’ve never believed in miracles, but you do now. And yet, dwelling beneath this magical aura, you sense it’s too good to be true.
It was too good to be true.
Winning with Weed Stocks
Recreational cannabis became legal in Canada on October 17, 2018. Until that point, you could have blindly thrown money at any “weed stock” and hit the bullseye. I was one of those people. Not only did I throw money at weed stocks, I threw all of my money at them. As a matter of fact, I borrowed money to amplify my earnings.
I was already planning next steps: “Just 20% more and then I’ll sell. I’ll buy a house, car, and a stack of blue-chip dividend stocks to keep me generating cash for life!”
Just 20% more. It was a naive mentality, but not far-fetched given the circumstances.
Up in Smoke
In a cruel twist of fate, the global stock market “crashed” just after legalization. It culminated in the worst December on record since the Great Depression, and the worst year for stocks since 2008.
50% losses in the cannabis sector were rationalized as “part of the pack.”
Instead of taking profits at the first sign of trouble, I stood by like our bartender, frozen in disbelief as the market dragged me to the depths of my personal hell.
I panicked and sold everything, right at the very bottom.
Rising from the Ashes
This experience called for deep reflection. I devoted most of that dark, bitter winter to absorb everything I could about investing: books from the library, dissecting financial statements, reading through analyst reports, watching lectures, etc. My learning hasn’t stopped. I developed a genuine interest and respect for the power and unpredictability of the market. It can make or break you. It broke me.
As I watched from the sidelines, weed stocks led the market roaring back to life just as quickly as they collapsed, posting near 100% gains from the tail end of December 2018 until peaking around April 2019.
It was from atop this peak the cannabis hysteria took its final puff.
For now, at least.
A New Leveraged Bet
In March 2019, after missing much of the rally, I felt determined to dive back in.
My strategy changed for the better. But my risk tolerance…
Well, I guess I enjoy taking risks. Calculated risks. Without the blindfold.
I leveraged 60% of my portfolio into a mixture of blue chip and high-yield stocks. My portfolio returned 13% last year.
So, I learned a few key things along the way—the hard way.
The stock market is a lot like a game of darts.
You can throw 10 and hit the bullseye each time.
You can also miss the board entirely.
Most people fall somewhere in between.
Investors, like dart players, must:
- Manage risk
- Make calculated decisions
- Be grounded in themselves
You’ve heard it all before. This is Investing 101.
Yet, many of us fail to implement even the most basic principles — such as diversification — in our portfolios. I know many people who are clutching their weed stocks at a 60% loss, praying for the next catalyst to spark Cannabis 2.0.
The same analysts who stoked the $100 Canopy flame are calling the bottom at $25. Sometimes life defies logic. What doesn’t defy logic are fundamentals.
It’s OK to take risks. In fact, you should. Invest in your education, switch careers for longer-term prospects, ask that person out on a date. This is how progress is made.
Have a prosperous 2020!
Over the last decade or more Canadian banking customers have had to accept two inevitable truths; interest rates on savings deposits would plummet and stay at historic lows, and banks would continue to raise fees on everyday bank accounts and services. All of this occurred while Canada’s big five banks hauled in record profits.
Savvy bank customers had to invent complicated workarounds to keep their hard-earned money safe, free of fees, and to earn a decent interest rate. That meant limiting transactions, maintaining high minimum balances, and bouncing from bank-to-bank chasing the latest short-term high-interest rate promotional offers.
If only there was a bank that offered one solution: a hybrid chequing-and-savings account that paid market-leading interest rates with no monthly fee, and no extra charges for moving your money around via e-Transfer or for paying bills.
Enter EQ Bank – a digital bank and offshoot of Equitable Bank – with its unique EQ Bank Savings Plus Account. This account offers an incredible 2.45% everyday interest rate with no monthly fees and no minimum balance. The interest rate tops all financial institutions in Canada and is billed by EQ Bank as an everyday rate.
What is a digital bank? For starters there are no branches, which means banking online or via smart-phone or tablet. Without any bank branches there is much less overhead for EQ Bank and they’re able to pass along the savings to their customers in the form of higher interest rates and no monthly fees.
Don’t let the name and high interest rate fool you into thinking this is just a savings account. The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account also comes with some chequing account functionality, offering unlimited day-to-day transactions, including the ability to pay bills and send unlimited e-Transfers for free. Clients can transfer money easily between an EQ Bank account and another bank via electronic funds transfer (EFT) (also unlimited and free).
That sounds great, but is your money secure? Equitable Bank is a member of the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC), and so deposits in the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account are insured up to the applicable limits.
Another neat feature that EQ Bank offers is the ability to open sub-accounts through something they call “savings goals”. Many people like to save for multiple goals, such as a house down payment, new car, a vacation, or even a new pair of shoes. You can set up recurring transfers from one account to the account with your savings goals, and EQ Bank will show you a progress bar to track how well you’re doing.
Where are the fees? There aren’t any – seriously, I looked.
So what are the limitations? There are a few things to note; namely that neither cheques nor debit cards will be issued with new accounts at this time, and clients won’t be able to withdraw or deposit funds from an ABM. Instead, simply access your account through the mobile app or online and move your money around freely between your linked bank account and your EQ Bank account through EFTs and e-Transfers.
Cheque deposits are limited to $25,000 per cheque, bill payments to $5,000 per transaction, and if you’re looking for a place to park a million dollars in cash, you’re out of luck at this time – EQ Bank has a total account balance per customer limit of $200,000.
Opening an account is simple – it took all of five minutes for me to set up an online profile, download the mobile app from the App Store, write a cheque to myself from my existing bank (for a minimum of $1), and use the EQ Bank app to take a picture of the cheque and confirm the deposit. From there it takes five days for EQ Bank to verify your account, at which time they’ll send you an email to notify you when your account is open.
Final thoughts on EQ Bank
In an environment where 1% is considered “high-interest savings”, and 2% is considered a temporary bonus offer, EQ Bank and its 2.45% everyday interest rate will have savers salivating.
Finally, Canadians have access to a market-leading high interest savings account that can be used for more than just a place to park cash for the short-term while you look for a better deal.
Read more about EQ Bank and its 2.45% Savings Plus Account here.
Travel Insurance for Seniors
Although many of the best travel credit cards in Canada include great travel insurance, many of them don’t really help seniors in a meaningful way. In this article, I’ll go over everything you need to consider when choosing a credit card with travel insurance for age 65+ and why you may still want to consider purchasing an outside policy. A reminder, regardless of what you go with, you need to read your policy to find out exactly what you’re covered for.
Age and length
When looking at credit card travel insurance for over 65, you could argue that the most important thing to look at is how many days you’re covered for your age. Many credit cards give 15 – 25 days if you’re under the age of 65, but if you’re 65+, those same cards typically only give you about 3 days of coverage – which isn’t very helpful.
There are a few exceptions that will appeal to seniors. The
If you have the
All of these credit cards with travel insurance for age 65+ are not bad, but many seniors travel for more than 15 days which could be problematic. Of course, the simple solution is to extend your coverage, but then you need to pay out of your pocket.
Another thing that people consider when looking at credit card travel insurance for over 65+ is the amount you’re covered for. Regardless of your age, your credit card with travel medical insurance will insure you for the same amount. Most of the time it’ll be for $1,000,000 but there are a few cards that give you $5,000,000 in coverage including the American Express Platinum Card which is what I use personally (I love unlimited lounge access). Unfortunately, the Platinum Card travel insurance only covers you up to the age of 65.
The good news is that the National Bank World Elite MasterCard and the Desjardins Odyssey World Elite MasterCard also give you $5,000,000 in travel medical coverage so overall, they both offer the best credit card travel insurance for seniors. That said, the Desjardins Odyssey World Elite MasterCard doesn’t come with flight delay insurance while the National Bank World Elite MasterCard lacks hotel/motel burglary and travel accident insurance.
Charging your travel expenses to your credit card
Here’s the interesting about travel medical insurance. You don’t need to charge any of your travel expenses to your credit card for your policy to apply. As long as you’re a cardholder, your travel medical policy would apply (assuming the reason you’re making a claim is valid).
On the flip side of things, all of your other travel insurance such as trip cancellation or lost luggage usually requires you to charge 75% – 100% of your trip expenses to your credit card for your policy to be valid.
For example, this is what the National Bank World Elite MasterCard shows for trip cancellation or interruption insurance.
“Trip cancellation or delay (up to $2,500 per insured): In the event of a trip cancellation or delay before departure, the following expenses will be reimbursed, provided that a portion or the entire cost of the trip was charged to the account.”
That basically means you only need to charge a portion of your trip expenses to your card for the trip cancellation to be valid. However, if you look under the vehicle rental insurance, it states the following:
“Eligible vehicle rental by the cardholder, paid for entirely with the card or rewards points earned with the card. Coverage applies anywhere in the world except locations where this coverage is prohibited under local law or rental agency policy.”
What that means is you need to charge the entire amount of your vehicle rental to your National Bank World Elite MasterCard for your vehicle insurance to be valid. In addition, you need to decline the car rental agency’s optional insurance.
You really need to read the fine print to find out what the conditions are for your travel insurance to apply.
Related: Life Insurance Options for Seniors
Why you may still want a separate insurance policy
Although the credit cards I’ve mentioned above may suit your needs, there’s one thing you must know about your policy. Credit card travel insurance is underwritten when you make a claim which could potentially leave you exposed.
For example, let’s say you’re on holiday and you go to the hospital due to some chest pains. The doctors there diagnose you with a minor heart attack which requires a few days of overnight monitoring and some drugs. Now let’s say you went to your family doctor four months earlier with complaints about chest pains and you’re diagnosed with indigestion. Since you had complained about a loosely related issue before, your travel insurance provider could deny your claim on grounds of a pre-existing condition.
A better solution might be to buy a multi-trip insurance policy at the start of the year. When you buy a travel insurance policy, the underwriting is done at that time. That means if you had stable health which includes no dosage changes to your medication in the last six months, you’d likely be insured for any medical treatment abroad during the time of your policy.
There are still some exceptions such as pending diagnostics or travel to destinations with a travel advisory, but the point is the underwriting is done at the time of purchase, so you’ll have a much clearer idea of what you’re insured for.
The cost of a multi-trip travel insurance policy can vary depending on your needs, but it can be quite reasonable. Yes, it’ll likely cost you more than the annual fee that comes with a credit card that includes travel insurance, but you’d probably get better coverage.
Although travel insurance included with some credit cards may be adequate for some seniors, getting a separate plan gives you better protection. This doesn’t apply to just people over the age of 65, anyone who is relying strictly on their credit card travel medical insurance may want to consider other options.
Barry Choi is a personal finance and travel expert at MoneyWeHave.com. He has been quoted by media in Canada and the United States, including The Financial Post, The Toronto Star, Business Insider, The Globe and Mail, and has appeared on HuffPost Live. You can follow him on Twitter: @barrychoi