Saturday, February 25, 2017

TransferWise - Lowest Cost Currency Exchange!

(Click for full-view)
Since I've moved to Germany, there have been countless times when I need to exchange Canadian Dollars for Euros (or vice versa). Exchanging currencies through the banks or currency exchange shops can be excruciatingly expensive.

A friend recently introduced me to TransferWise. After trying TransferWise a few times, I've become a full supporter. It is by far the easiest low-cost way of exchanging currencies. You can use TransferWise to transfer money between yourself, family, friends, or anyone else with a bank account. Essentially you get the same exchange rate shown in Google's currency convertor plus a small fee.

The only caveat is money must be transferred between two bank accounts in countries that TransferWise operates in (over 40 countries). So TransferWise works best if you are transferring money from one bank account to another. This may not work for you if you are traveling for a short time to a foreign country, need a small amount of local currency, and do not have a bank account there. Alternatively, if you have a trusted friend in the foreign country you're traveling to, you could transfer money to them and have them give you that money once you arrive (to avoid high currency exchange fees).

Here's a short video on how TransferWise works:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Living in a Vancouver Storage Locker

I recently read this article by the CBC about a man who converted a Vancouver storage unit into a livable apartment. Although this is illegal and crazy, I have to admit that this is one of the most ingenious set-ups I've ever seen. You probably shouldn't do this:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

8 Wealth Habits of Financially Successful People by Ron Malhotra

I recently finished the "8 Wealth Habits of Financially Successful People" by Ron Malhotra. This book is an introductory guide to personal finance, which I thought was succinct (with less than 80 pages). However, I felt that it was less entertaining than other introductory personal finance books such as: The Wealthy Barber (Chilton), The Millonaire Teacher (Hallam), or The Automatic Millionaire (Bach).

The 8 wealth habits as described by Ron are:
  1. Think Differently
  2. Invest in Yourself
  3. Don't Trade Time for Money
  4. Invest to Increase Wealth
  5. Preserve and Protect Wealth
  6. Don't Take Unnecessary Risks
  7. Be Conscientious About Your Money and Future
  8. Surround Yourself with Trusted Experts
This book is very short, so it works well as a review of basic personal finance concepts. However, it lacks any real depth into any particular personal finance topic.
Here's a short video from Ron explaining some psychological hurdles that keep us from becoming making wise financial decisions:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The 6 Best and Worst Places to Buy Rental Property in Canada

I came across an interesting article the other day from Money Sense by Romana King that listed the 6 best and worst places to buy rental property in Canada. I decided to summarize her tables in one place:
I was recently living in Vancouver and would agree that the real estate prices there are ridiculously expensive. It would be very difficult to succeed as a real estate investor in Vancouver, however it's an awesome city to live in. Charlottetown on the other hand would be a much easier place to become a real estate mogul, given that you like potatoes and Ann of Green Gables.

The 11 Best Tips For Buying Your First Investment Property:

Saturday, December 12, 2015

7 Best Dividend Investing Tips From the Experts

I am an avid dividend investor. I think owning dividend paying stocks are a great way to supplement and diversify your income streams. As the saying goes "you shouldn't have all your eggs in one basket", meaning you shouldn't rely solely on one income stream (i.e. your job).

You might be asking yourself, what is a dividend? Firstly, companies can issue shares of their company in the form of stocks to raise expansion capital. When you purchase company shares, you are investing in the company, thus becoming a part owner of the company. This entitles you to the company's profits (if there are any). Typically when a publicly traded company earns a profit there are two ways in which they can use them to benefit the shareholders: 1) The company can retain the earnings with the intent of eventually increasing the share price, or 2) The company can give some of the profits to the shareholders in the form of a dividend.

What are the best tips when it comes investing in dividend stocks? I recently stumbled onto an article by Jimmy Atkinson at Dividend Reference entitled "101 Dividend Investing Tips from the Experts". You can find it here:

I've selected what I found to be the seven best dividend investing tips from the article above:
  1. Diversify but don’t over diversify. Adding one stock to a 10-stock portfolio adds a great deal of value, but adding 10 stocks to a 100-stock portfolio may not add any value. Most studies show that a diversified portfolio of 15 to 30 stocks is the optimal number of individual investments.
    — Ken Faulkenberry, The AAAMP Value Blog
  2. While dividend yield has its importance, an intelligent investor should pay greater attention to a stock’s dividend growth rate and yield-on-cost. An investment that pays 3 percent on your cost is good, but what’s even better is an investment that pays you 10 percent on your cost down the line. Divided growth is what makes this possible.
    — Quinn Mohammed, Dividend Beginner
  3.  Be a net accumulator. Contrary to what the financial media blitzes us with on a minute-by-minute basis, there’s nothing glorious about buying and selling stocks. If you ascribe to that manic strategy of trying to cycle in and out of equities, you’ll wind up emulating the proverbial hamster on the wheel rather than Warren Buffett. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blindly advocating buy and hold either. What I am suggesting is that you focus on being a net accumulator of assets; my favourite being dividend growth stocks. In my years of investing, I have only sold a single stock.
    — Ryan, Get Rich Brothers
  4. I like to buy shares (new position or adding on) soon after the ex-dividend date. Share prices tend to hit a short term peak just before ex-dividend and the price will often drop below the ex-dividend share value in the couple of weeks following ex-dividend. In many cases the price savings will be several times the just paid dividend amount. This strategy will produce a lower average cost per share and higher effective yield.
    — Tim Plaehn, Investors Alley
  5.  To gain an instant dividend portfolio consider low-cost indexed mutual funds or ETFs. Vanguard offer several dividend focused funds with low fees which pay qualified dividends.
    — Trevor, Dividend Life
  6.  A good portfolio is like a garden. It takes maintenance, time and attention to detail, but ultimately should grow by itself. It should not take continuous work, but occasional pruning. A well understood and well balanced portfolio can be a piece of beauty.
    — AlphaTarget
  7. The first place any investor should look for high quality dividend stocks is the Dividend Aristocrats list. This is how I constructed my own long term dividend investing portfolio. It’s a great starting point for further filtering and research to find some of the highest quality companies that have a long history of annual dividend raises.
    — Keith Park, Div Hut 
In addition, here is Dan Caplinger from The Motley Fool with three things you probably didn't know about dividend investing: