Weekend Reading: August Long Edition

My wife and I are spending this August long weekend planning our dream trip to the U.K. next summer. So far we’ve booked flights to Edinburgh, Scotland and found an Airbnb for our two-week stay in Kilkenny, Ireland. We’re trying to fill in the rest of the details, including travelling to Inverness, flying to Dublin, and finding interesting attractions to see along the way. We hope to finalize our itinerary in the coming weeks.

It’s gratifying to see our dream vacation turn into reality. I first blogged or made reference to a 4-week trip to Ireland back in November, 2011 as part of an 11-part financial freedom series:

4-Week Vacation in Ireland

How accurate was this goal? Incredibly, the only thing that has changed is our desire to see Scotland in addition to Ireland on our month-long adventure.

We’ve been talking about this trip for more than 10 years, but seven years ago I wrote it down in this blog and we held ourselves accountable to making it a reality by 2019. Here we are, in 2018, making concrete plans for our dream trip to the U.K. in the summer of 2019. Just like we planned. It’s a beautiful thing.

This Week’s Recap:

I wrote one post this week on how I try to keep the needle moving forward on my financial freedom goals despite low (or no) wage growth.

Over on Rewards Cards Canada I explained how we redeemed Aeroplan miles for flights to the U.K., saving thousands on fees and taxes along the way.

Weekend Reading:

Horizons ETFs made headlines this week when it announced two new all-in-one balanced ETFs to take on Vanguard’s asset allocation ETFs. Not everyone was impressed with the announcement, however, as Horizons is claiming in its advertisements that these ETFs come with 0 percent management fees. The problem is, it’s not really true:

Purpose Financial CEO Som Seif points out correctly that while this new “fund of funds” may come with no additional management fee, the underlying funds (the seven ETFs held under the umbrella) do come with fees.

Does Canada really need an inheritance tax? Global’s Erica Alini tackles this complicated topic.

The stock market is half the size of its mid-1990s peak, and 25 percent smaller than it was in 1976. Here’s why that’s a problem for everyone.

Steadyhand’s Scott Ronalds lists twenty smart takeaways from 20 years in the investment industry. My favourite lesson:

“Ignore the phrase, “the market is at an all-time high.” It’s overused and is an inappropriate scare tactic that encourages market timing (which doesn’t work). If you refrained from investing in stocks when the market was at an all-time high five years ago, you’ve missed out on big gains.”

Morgan Housel on why you’re more likely to be right if you’re constantly trying to prove yourself wrong.

And again, here’s the brilliant Housel with the spectrum of financial dependence and independence. What level do you fall under? I feel stuck somewhere between level 7 and level 8.

A great read on why points obsessed travellers (Hi!) are terrified of losing their perks, referring to Starwood fans fearing what’ll happen to their beloved loyalty program when it merges with the giant Marriott rewards program later this month.

Michael James has been serving as executor of an estate, causing him to reflect on how to sort his own affairs to make it easier for his sons.

On the same topic, Rob Carrick asks solo seniors who will execute your will when you die?

Here are four lessons from Hetty Green, the richest woman in Wall Street history.

We always hear that long-term stock returns should average between 8-10 percent a year. But what are normal stock market returns? PWL Capital’s Ben Felix explains.

And here’s Ben Felix’s latest YouTube video where he explains why foreign withholding tax is a tricky little detail that can eat into your investment returns:

A Wealth of Common Sense blogger Ben Carlson explains the concept of ‘willing losers’ where people take actions that put them at a disadvantage, such as people who carry a credit card balance, or people who day-trade.

Tom Bradley says investors will look back and marvel at how good things were from 2014 to 2018. He says to expect lower returns over the next five years because the bull market is showing its age.

Here’s why Canadians are increasingly putting the ‘remote’ in working remotely:

“A growing number of Canadians are taking the term “working remotely” literally, leaving the hustle and bustle of city life behind to work from their cottage or winter home down south.”

Canadian Dividend Investing’s Nelson Smith shares an early retirement strategy – using your RRSP to save taxes.

Finally, a truly bizarre tale about how an ex-cop rigged McDonald’s Monopoly game and stole millions.

Have a great August long weekend, everyone!

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  1. Gayle Clow on August 5, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    Why Kilkenny?

    • Robb Engen on August 5, 2018 at 4:50 pm

      Hi Gayle, we wanted a home base from which to take day trips and to just relax and experience local living. We found a farm house just outside of Kilkenny which should be perfect. We’ll spend the last three nights in Dublin before flying home.

  2. Braden B on August 6, 2018 at 11:54 am

    I understand the quote for Scott Ronald’s list but what about trading long term market cycles?
    I’ve also heard from millionaire teacher, like me also a big fan of generic ETF approach, that humans can do well investing after, not with perfection, 20-40% market corrections.
    Which leads me to my real world question—whether to enter the stock market right now.
    I am a new investor and Seems things generally are over valued. I have a growing 15k portfolio to either to place in the market or leave out for now waiting for a downturn. No idea when it will come but the 4-5% gains of the next 3-4 years could be easily washed away by a correction.
    To me it seems more logical to wait Knowing that the downturn will likely take all the profits, possibly more, from this last “inning” of the cycle.

    Want to know your thoughts on this and do you have any wisdom on what to invest in near the end point of the cycle?
    I fear you will tell me VXC or again Vanguard ETFs. If so please indicate why my logic would not apply.

    • Robb Engen on August 6, 2018 at 12:29 pm

      Hi Braden, that’s a fair question. In theory it would’ve been great to back up the truck in March 2009 to buy equities but I don’t know anyone who actually did that. The mood at the time was frightening and you’d be asking much different questions back then about deploying your $15k (have we reached the bottom yet?!?).

      You’re also assuming we’re going to have a major correction like in 2000 or 2008-09. Those were massive black swan events that may never happen again. Perhaps more likely is we see a 10-20 percent correction at some point (who knows when) or the markets go sideways for a few years and you’re stuck waiting for a drop that never comes.

      Put another way, let’s say you keep your $15k on the sidelines and hope for a 30-40 percent correction so you can buy at the bottom. Let’s say that comes to pass and you have the fortitude to move your chips all-in at or near the bottom. So then what? Will that $15k change your life? Even if it grows by 50% in relatively short order you’ll have $22,500. Can you retire on that?

      I’m not dismissing what you’re saying, but the stock market is a long-term play. It’ll be at an all-time high more times than you’d think. The question you’re asking right now about your $15k will seem trivial in 5-10 years when your portfolio is in the six-figure range.

    • Robb Engen on August 6, 2018 at 12:36 pm

      One more thought on this Braden: IF the markets do crash 40 percent and I was in the position to make a large lump sum contribution I would absolutely consider borrowing to invest at that point.

      Being in position to do that means I would have impeccable credit, I could easily handle the loan payments, I wouldn’t panic if stocks didn’t recover in the near term, the loan wouldn’t ruin other plans I had for my finances, and I still had two decades or more before retirement.

      That’s a situation where guys like Andrew Hallam and Talbot Stevens might say you can do well and accelerate your investment gains (if you had the stomach and discipline to execute the strategy).

      I think that’s different than trying to market time your regular RRSP contributions or a small lump sum of money.

      • Braden B on August 6, 2018 at 6:50 pm

        Thanks for given me another perspective on my approach. It is a great experience to be able to write out my thoughts and have someone else give a reasonable rebuttal.

        Maybe I do over estimate the crash before us. All I know is fundamentals aren’t great.

        So it sounds like you will not be changing your investment strategy right now, though some are fearing a decline?
        Same proportion is stocks, bonds, real estate etc.

        • Dividend Earner on August 6, 2018 at 10:49 pm

          The fundamentals are not great if you read articles or comments that focus on that … You will always find some data or someone to agree with your statement. Try to consider the opposite of your thinking to balance both sides.

          The fact is, there is a rule of thumb that we get a recession every 7 years and that’s mostly referred to as a correction rather than a crash. We are overdue but each country/market will go through it differently.

          The Canadian market has lagged the US for that past 5 years at least and the oil prices will have a positive impact as it usually does … Overall, it’s complicated to predict. The Vancouver real estate market has been due for a crash since 2005 according to many. Still no crash.

          I just ignore all of that noise. Invest, invest more, average down or average up.

          The time to invest was yesterday as they say.

          My suggestion, invest $1,000 per month instead of all at once. Each month, rebalance using the new $1,000. You will slowly get your feet wet and understand how the market fluctuates.

  3. Owen @ PlanEasy.ca on August 8, 2018 at 10:22 am

    Ireland is awesome! My wife and I went a few years ago before we had kids and we really enjoyed the people, culture and sights. Driving on the left was a bit nerve wracking but we made it. If you can, check out a hurling match, its intense.

    • Robb Engen on August 8, 2018 at 3:00 pm

      Hi Owen, thanks for this. Driving is one of our biggest worries. We’ll manage to do Scotland by train and bus, but there’s no way around it – we’ll need a car in Ireland for sure.

      Hurling sounds…interesting!

  4. Cheryl on August 8, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    Reading your post while I catch up on my emails in my Belfast hotel room. I am in the last few days of our 27 Day UK Family trip (Hubby,15 and 13 year olds and myself). We did London, road trip Northeast England towards Edinburgh, Edinburgh for the Tattoo (a must see…incredible ) and Fringefest, now Belfast, tomorrow road trip driving North coast towards Londonderry with trip culmination in Dublin . Trip takeaways…one month has been too long for us. We were fried after three weeks. We booked this length as we’ve done Japan and other European trips for just under three weeks, so we thought we’d try for four weeks. Considering familial desertion (kidding…kind of ). Book accommodation as early as possible. Big savings and you can access rooms for 4 more easily…not common here). Food is far more than we budgeted for …pesky weak CAD $! Book your activity tickets online prior. Pre booking discounts common…especially for family rates. Also handy for fast entry when onsite ticket lineups are long. Happy to privately send you our much researched kid friendly itinerary.

    • Robb Engen on August 8, 2018 at 3:05 pm

      Hi Cheryl, many thanks for sharing these tips and especially for your honesty about the four-week length of stay being too long. I’ve also heard that from my in-laws, although I sort of dismissed it as they were burned-out from a whirlwind tour of many countries, whereas our schedule is pretty laid back and free-flowing.

      We’ll definitely try to book as much as we can in advance, online.

      And, yes, please do send me your itinerary – hit me up in the contact page and I’ll reply back right away: https://boomerandecho.com/contact/

  5. jambr403 on August 9, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    I was recently in Cork, Ireland for work. Amazing place. We took the train down from Dublin. Friendliest cab drivers I’ve ever encountered anywhere in the world too.
    One big take away for me from the trip was how Guinness beer is like their Molson or Coors. I tried many of their local brews like McSwiggens (I think). The draft beers in Ireland were so delicious and had lower alcohol content too. Definitely want to go back to Ireland on a personal family holiday.

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