Finishing Strong: A Year in Review

Our household’s stock portfolio had a strong year-end finish, our best year yet. However, looking back at a “good year” doesn’t happen without some wincing. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I have to try really hard not to obsess over what more I could’ve made or what I should’ve done instead.

I do believe that improvement is more about recognizing what you’d do more of and less of rather than operating under a rigid set of rules. There is no exact science to investing and I learned over the years that overanalyzing mistakes and errors could lead to more errors or even worse, create fear and the inability to take action when the opportunity arises. 

For the markets, it was a positive year, but things change from year to year. Not every stock or sector did well, though. My biggest winners were from the Canadian market. They were mostly stocks of typically strong companies that got beat up in 2015. Did I sell some stocks too soon? Yes. Did I sell some too late? Yep. Did I enter much too late on some? O00h yeah! Did I take too much risk in some? Definitely. 

I’m not a psychic, I can only stick to my plan and go with what generally works in given circumstances. Given how busy I was with publishing and marketing my book, I allowed myself to be less disciplined (read: lazy) in the stock department, and I’d been benefiting from my main man JP’s expertise and efforts in stock searches. I’ll admit, the “doing less” attitude was intentional; now that I have data to work with, I can see where that hands-off attitude paid off and where it didn’t. Going forward, I can use this experience to my advantage.

Other than my recurring list of resolutions to workout more, eat better, sleep more, drink more water, meditate, do daily yoga, etc., there are definitely some investment-related goals I’d like to follow-through with for 2017:

  1. Finally finish filming and upload my stock video – gulp! (Many apologies – I almost got it done but then I didn’t as it’s been hard to film day-to-day because the charts always change!)
  2. Have a weekly list of stocks and ETFs to watch and post it on my blog.
  3. Regularly share my analysis and thoughts of the markets and economic news.
  4. Do transparent investing for my RRSP starting with $1000 (it’s ready to go!). 
  5. Put even more of my income regularly into my investment accounts.
  6. Properly document my trades (rather than sloppily jotting them down on post-its) by always (not sometimes) recording my entries, expected exits, and short and long-term plans for each stock. 
The Transparent RRSP Challenge

I got big plans for 2017 which can make me or break me (see #4 above). I feel it’s important to show how a new stock investor could invest a small workable amount such as $1000 and make it grow through regular contributions (for the benefits of compounding, increasing buying capacity, and tax deductions) and from picking appropriate stocks and ETFs.

My intention isn’t to show how I would invest in my own RRSP. Instead, my aim is to put myself in the shoes of a new stock investor by using my own money to invest in the very suggestions I’d make to a dear friend.

It would be cool to show the difference of investing for a TFSA. JP is considering opening another TFSA for the sake of doing a parallel Transparent TFSA Challenge. I’d do it if I had more time, but it would be too dizzying for me to manage my other investment accounts on top of TWO experimental ones. I’ll stick to one. 

Why am I doing this? I feel there’s still a lot of taboo around stocks as being too risky. Many years ago, that was truer than it is now. These days, with lower interest rates on top of inflation, you can no longer get ahead with the standard GICs or mutual funds with high MERs. Despite the shorter-term ups and downs of the stock market, it has shown over the long term very steady growth. In my opinion, investing in the stock market through stocks and/or ETFs is inevitable.

I realize that people generally crave certainty and fear uncertainty and having to deal with variables. That’s perfectly normal, but often this sentiment translates into higher levels of consumer debt (due to the instant gratification of shopping) and less in financial assets (because of longer wait times for the money to come in). It’s never too late to start, but you have to start somewhere with a little something. I’m doing the Transparent RRSP Challenge because I want to be right there with you, offering you all that I know, as you start your journey. You can think of me as that personal trainer who works out with you, by your side.


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