Couples and Money Management

In the last month or so, JP and I have been revisiting our life goals. Since relocating and finding work, we now have a better grip on our financial situation and therefore can make better projections on our finances.

We basically wrote down our goals in order of importance and plotted them along a timeline. Our plans are quite ambitious but within the realm of possibility. We figured how much money and time we’d need to achieve each goal. It’s not that we haven’t done this before, but after going through a big transition like moving, it was good for us to check in to see whether we’re still on track. When life gets busy, it’s easy to forget your ‘why.’ If you wander too far off from your plans, your spending gets sloppy and problems arise from there. It was a good exercise in getting refocussed on what we want.

We also made adjustments to how we monitor our spending. We created a shared spreadsheet on Google that we can each access on our phones and computers. Whenever we buy something or pay a bill, we enter it on the spreadsheet. We considered using mint.com to track our spending and savings, but it can’t properly factor in all of our investment accounts where we put all of our savings. I don’t really mind having to do things more manually as it’s more interactive. Doing things this way encourages us to talk more about our expenses, which ultimately has led us to make huge improvements in our strategies.

Couples have their own ways of managing money. Some couples split every shared expense down the middle to the cent, and save and spend the rest how they see fit. Some couples rely on one spouse to do most or all of the money managing. We try to do everything together. There isn’t one right way to do this, as long as it works well.

JP and I try to account for everything. When we want to buy something extra, we pitch to the other one like it’s Dragon’s Den. This, I recognize, is not how most people want to operate! Keep in mind that we normally use up all of our savings to invest. Anything frivolous takes away from each other’s ability to buy stocks, so it better be good. We still treat ourselves, as long as we budget for it. As much as we like talking about stocks and the markets, talking about our financial logistics is just as important.

Within days of determining that one of our goals is to invest in a snowbird property within the next year, we booked ourselves to go to Costa Rica to start looking around. I love goals!

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Having said all that, we both just transferred money to each of our TFSAs. We spent this morning looking for some decent picks, but we can’t find anything worth investing in this week. The only good ones were in the gold sector, but right now neither of us is interested in the goldies. The market has gone straight up for almost two months and needs to take a breather. If the market resets on the monthly or weekly charts, we might find better picks — at least we’ll be funded and ready for when the opportunity is there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: Thanksliving Day Weekend

The week of October 2
  • On Oct 2, I bought 10 shares of ZPR.TO at $11.61. This cost me $116.10.
  • To my horror, I realized later on that I meant to buy 15 shares of ZPR, not just 10. So I ended up buying another 5 shares the next day at $11.67 a share (6 cents more!). This cost me $58.35. Aw phooey!
  • I would have bought more ZPR on Wednesday when I finally had more funds in the account, but the price was up higher by that point. Instead, I bought 15 shares of GRL.TO at $7.96 per share. This cost $119.55.

I have $37.92 in cash left in my RRSP.

GRL and ZPR

Price charts for GRL and ZPR on freestockcharts.com

I bought both of these stocks earlier this year. In early January, I got 50 shares of ZPR for $10.86 and 50 shares of GRL for $7.74 in mid-February. When you work out the average price, it looks like this:

ZPR

  • 50 shares @ $10.86 + $0.50 in commission* = $543.50
  • 10 shares @ $11.61 = $116.10
  • 5 shares @ $11.67 = $58.35
  • This totals to $717.95
  • Take the total cost of $717.95 and divide it by 65 shares. You get $11.05 a share for ZPR.

* I forgot to buy this under the “Free ETF Investment” commission structure with Virtual Brokers. I did remember to choose the correct commission structure this time around. At least I got one important thing right.

GRL

  • 50 shares @ $7.74 + $0.50 in commission = $387.50
  • 15 shares @ $7.96 + $0.15 in commission = $119.55
  • This totals to $507.05.
  • Divide $507.05 by 65 shares = $7.80 a share

Oh, what fun math can be! 

I really need to work this out for all the stocks I’ve averaged or scaled into. I scaled into a few of my other stocks last week — as I’ve been doing throughout the summer. I wish I could be a little more type A when it comes to tracking.

My new year’s resolution was to get more organized with tracking my trades. I still use post-it reminders occasionally. I now have two bulletin boards and a whiteboard to post better visual reminders for my trade ideas, upcoming strategies, and items that need attention. While I’ve made improvements in keeping up with things, I’m still floundering in the tracking department.


Thanksgiving Day 

Tomorrow my in-laws are coming to stay with us for a few days. They know it’s going to be a vegetarian ‘Thanksliving’ (the term courtesy of Jesse Eisenberg), so I’m sure they’re getting their turkey fill tonight with the other half of the family in Calgary before they fly in tomorrow.

I’ve got yummy Tofurky on the menu (don’t knock it until you try it) along with savoury kale chips, grilled veggies, dessert cookies, and other things that go well with good wine and craft beer. This may seem unappetizing to many, but we’re decent cooks for a couple of veg-heads and have yet to disappoint our guests. Cholesterol levels will not be spiking tomorrow!

I’ve got some cleaning and prep to do tonight so that tomorrow, I can trade in the morning for my US margin account as the US markets are open. Once I’m done trading, Thanksgiving cooking – and drinking – begin in the early afternoon.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: Portfolio Choices

The Week of Oct 2
  • Over the weekend, I deposited $150 into the RRSP. I will have $328.22 in cash in the account as it takes a couple of business days for the transfer to show up in the account.

September was a bit of hectic month for me. Other than scaling into THCX.V, a stock which I already owned in my TFSA, I didn’t do much in the portfolio department. Sometimes you just have to take care of other business before you can properly take care of the business.

Last week, I finished the Trader Training Course with the Canadian Securities Institute. The night I found out I passed, I immediately signed up for the Technical Analysis Course. Even though I read charts all the time and dream about them in my sleep, I always like to read up on the basics. The text and course have been recently updated and I must say, I’m pretty impressed so far with the really clear explanations. I’ve read a lot of other books on technical analysis and this one is the best one yet. It better be because it costs A LOT more!


Now that I will have more cash, I’m considering buying more shares of ZPR. Check it out.

ZPR

Price chart for the ZPR ETF on freestockcharts.com

In the summer, I was curious to see if this would continue trading sideways. It still is, but it could be starting to break out. The worst that could happen is that if the market turns, this one will too after I enter, but I don’t really care. They say you should never have a bias when it comes to your investments, but I can’t help but like this one. I have shares of this in my TFSA as well.

Since it’ll take a couple of days for me to have the other $150 in this account, I’ll put a limit order in for 15 shares on Monday (tomorrow). Once the other cash shows up, I’ll get more. We’ll see how it works out.


Some More Stock Picks

I like the monthly charts for the following stocks:

  • CPG.TO
  • WCP.TO
  • ERF.TO
  • EFN.TO (This one needs another week or so to set up better.)
  • ACB.TO (This could use another week or two to set up.)
  • EXE.TO (I already own shares of this. It needs to tighten up, but I’m watching this one closely.)
ACB

Price chart for ACB.TO on freestockcharts.com

ACB is interesting because it’s a young stock. When you don’t have much to go on for the longer term charts of the weekly, monthly, and yearly, then you have to look shorter term and rely on the daily, hourly, or even shorter intraday timeframes (30 min, 15 min). It becomes more of a risk when you have less historical information to make your decisions on. In these situations, you just manage your risk accordingly. Even though it’s a cheap stock, you might want to buy fewer shares. As time goes on and you have more information and encounter better setups, you can always buy more shares.

I say this because I normally wouldn’t enter a stock that has gone up for six straight weeks as seen on the weekly chart. It would have to have an amazing monthly chart, which this one doesn’t yet because it’s still new. However, the daily chart is great in that is has a lot of trade volume supporting its most recent uptrend. What’s also attractive about this uptrend is that it’s had four pullbacks testing the trendline since it started in late August.

I’m a little hesitant to buy a new weed stock for the RRSP, but I think I will take on a few shares of this for my TFSA.

As always, do your necessary research and only risk what you’re comfortable with!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catios

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Our catio. We’re halfway there!

This week, I barely remembered to do my monthly deposit of $150 into my RRSP. I admit I have not paid any attention to the markets nor my investment accounts. This happens from time to time, and I’m mostly okay with that. I’ll get back into it this week or next week.

Instead, I found myself doing a lot of personal stuff that I’d put off all summer, such as returning and exchanging items, pursuing refunds, cancelling magazine subscriptions, closing useless accounts, etc. I’m also trying to stay on top of my study schedule. What has taken centre stage though, is the designing and building of our cat enclosure, also known as a catio. Yes, we’re nutty cat people.

JP and I relocated this spring/summer. It was a long, gradual process. Unlike our other moves, this one involved a lot of research trips and planning in the beginning. Once we officially decided to move, I ventured out first in the spring. I sublet an apartment in student housing, and boy was that a shift in lifestyle! After moving into a room smaller than my bathroom back home, I looked for work and found a job. After that, I found a house for us to move into. This house needed a lot of cleaning and fixing.

During the week after work, we cleaned and painted the new place and then on the weekends, went back to our place in the countryside. JP and I had to clean, repair and re-paint with the goal of getting our own house ready for renters as of September.

The biggest job was the decluttering process, which actually took a couple of months. We’d been holding a lot of stuff on behalf of our families. We adopted a ruthless policy in deciding what was coming with us and what would be sold on Kijiji or in our big garage sale. We made several exhausting trips to the dump and donation centres. Even after we moved everything, we still got rid of unwanteds as we unpacked. Overall, we got rid of over a third of what we had at our old place. There is nothing more freeing than having in your possession only the things you really want and need.

Our next priority was figuring out what to do about our cats. They’re both wild, country boys who moved in with us on their own — we discovered that this is how many cats and dogs become pets in the countryside, by the way! One moved in five years ago one very cold winter and the other started coming in on his own as of last summer. We had an open door policy with them that allowed them to come and go as they pleased. They were undoubtedly going to have a hard time adjusting from five acres of farmland to a city with so many neighbours around, in addition to being around a lot of traffic. There’s a good chance of them wandering far, becoming lost, or much worse.

We first tried to put collars on them with trackers. They HATED the collars so much, that no amount of positive conditioning was going to work. Introducing a leash led to many traumatic moments, and we nearly lost one of them. So, we opted to build an enclosure in our backyard. We got a lot of ideas from YouTube where people posted handy videos on how they designed and built ‘catios’ on their own. Some of the designs were a little weak, but others were so creative and simply amazing.

We knew some parts of the construction would be beyond our abilities so we spent a couple of weeks finding a contractor. Try explaining what a catio is to anybody…then try having people take you seriously after you tell them all this trouble is for your cats! Honestly, with many cities implementing new by-laws that don’t allow you to let your pets roam free, these pet enclosures are going to be the next hot thing. They solve a lot of problems from losing your pets to preserving bird populations. Also, your pets will be happier and healthier not being stuck indoors.

Through a connection at JP’s new job, we found some willing contractors who were more curious than anything. We had a great time working with them yesterday and hope to be completed next weekend. The head carpenter even wants to take JP under his wing for upcoming jobs and teach him the tricks of the trade. If he gets good, who knows? Maybe catio designing will be our next side business! Look at the catio empire this couple has started.

This project was not ‘cheap’ but it’s worth it as we’re investing in our pets’ health, safety, and happiness!

 

MOVING IN

Buddy and Tiny, my cat babies

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: Relative Strength

The Week of August 14
  • On Wednesday, August 16th, I bought 100 shares of Bombardier (BBD.B.TO) at $2.65 per share.
  • With $1 in commissions, the whole purchase was $266.00. I now have $18.47 in cash in the RRSP account.

I actually meant to buy the shares on Tuesday, but I totally forgot to put in an order! So, on Tuesday night, I put in a limit order to buy 100 shares at $2.68, a couple of cents above the current bid/ask price. I was peeved by my sloppiness, but I’d been stalking this stock all month, watching it against the market. I wanted it that badly that I was willing to pay more than I knew I should have.

Thankfully, on Wednesday, my order was filled at the lower price of $2.65! This happens sometimes; other times it can go the other way and your order will be filled at a much higher price. It’s called slippage when you get filled at a higher price than what you have on order. Slippage tends to happen more when stocks are lightly traded. Bombardier is a heavily traded stock, so slippage is less likely to happen.


Let’s do some chart analysis!

 

BBD analysis

Price charts for BBD.B and XIC on freestockcharts.com

On Chart #1, the pink arrow shows the day I bought BBD.B. No special day and it closed negative. On Chart #2, the pink arrow for the XIC market ETF shows the market on the day I bought BBD.B.

The blue arrows on both charts #1 and #2 show how they closed for the week. BBD.B closed more positive than the market did, showing relative strength. There’s been uncertainty in the overall markets in general with the possibility of war — and then you add violent protests and terrorist attacks to the mix and you get even more negativity. I hope this little stock, along with the rest of the RRSP portfolio (come on, LIQ!), will show resilience in the face of all this.

Chart #3 is the weekly chart for BBD.B. It’s a healthy looking chart with a very bullish setup. (If you’re not familiar with the market lingo, bullish means optimistic and positive because apparently, bulls look up when they’re in attack mode; bearish means negative and pessimistic because bears look down when they’re about to pummel you. There could be more to the meaning of these terms, but all that matters is that you get the picture.)

Chart #4 shows a lot of potential for BBD.B to move up if and when it gets past the previous price resistance points as seen on that pink dotted line.

Of course, all of this can go potty — regardless the relative strength and bullish setups — if the overall markets get really negative and there are more sellers than buyers. No matter what, just try to stay positive and strong!

 

The Transparent RRSP: Market Fears

The Week of August 8
  • I left the RRSP account alone. I wanted to buy shares of Bombardier (BBD.B.TO), but I couldn’t find an entry. There might be an entry on Monday or Tuesday.

 

BBD vs XIC

Price charts: BBD.B vs. XIC on freestockcharts.com

As you can see in the top two charts, BBD.B has been more positive than the market (the two lower charts of XIC). If the market continues to head lower, I’ll either abandon the plan to buy shares of BBD.B or just wait until the market settles down.


Last Thursday, the markets collectively demonstrated anxiety over North Korea. There was a big market sell-off and most gold stocks went up. It’s hard to say at this point if this is a reaction temporary in nature, or if it will signify the beginning of more and more selling due to fear. I’m going to make it a point to pay closer attention to the news and to how the market trades over the next couple of weeks.

Last week, I put together a big watch list of stocks that had promising charts. After last Thursday, only a few of them still look okay:

  • L.TO (Wait another few weeks to a month for this to properly set up)
  • H.TO (I own shares of this stock already.)
  • EXE.TO (I own shares of this stock already.)
  • TCW.TO
  • D.UN.TO (This is a REIT.)
  • CNE.TO (Needs a better setup unless you’re into aggressive, riskier entries.)
  • LIF.TO

Until you know what’s going on with the market, I don’t recommend buying anything. These stocks would be worth looking at while also observing the market. Watch how these perform against the market or their sector. If resilient stocks start to show weakness, then it’s usually a good sign that a weaker market will become even weaker.

There are different ways to play defensive during uncertain times. You can buy gold or shares of gold stocks. You can also buy consumer staples stocks. You can buy nothing or you can sell all your stocks. Whatever you do, don’t lose sight of what you want for your portfolio long term and think strategically.

Since the late spring, I’ve been unloading shares of stock. I’m either selling portions of my positions or all of them to either collect profits or reduce my exposure to the market. I have still been buying shares here and there, but not as actively as I used to. This has nothing to do with North Korea. Rather, it’s more about the market, which has been pulling back since the end of April. Maybe eventually, it will have everything to do with a conflict with North Korea. Regardless of what happens, I’ll let the charts guide me, not my fear.

 

 

 

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: Summer Reading

The Week of July 17
  • I took no action for the RRSP.

Instead, all week I’ve been stewing and brewing over something I wrote two weeks ago:

This week, I was actually considering buying shares of APH.TO for the RRSP, but it’s not quite ready yet. I know this one is capable of developing really good patterns. Once I see the trading range tighten, the selling volume lessen, and a pattern improvement on the daily and weekly charts, then I’ll pick the price I’d like to enter at and I’ll put in an order. I’ll give it another couple of weeks. If it ends up going up while I’m waiting for these things to align, I won’t be too concerned if I miss the run. It will either set up again later or I’ll find something else.

So, APH had a major breakout three trading days after that post. The setup I was identifying actually happened – just a lot sooner. I took my eye off the ball. So, I went with my next play. Last week, I bought ECN at $4.03 with a strong feeling that it was going to take out a previous low of $3.87, which it did only three trading days after I put in my limit order.

 

APH ECN

Price charts for APH.TO and ECN.TO on freestockcharts.com

 

I was right both times. The problem is, I’m left frustrated, mainly because I missed the stock that had the bigger move. You know what’s worse than losing money for most traders?

  • Exiting a stock too soon and leaving money on the table;
  • Missing out on something you knew was going to happen;
  • Overcompensating for either of the above two reasons.

I actually shouldn’t be frustrated. Let’s say I never noticed APH at all. I would take that ECN trade any day and I’d be okay with it.

Trading Psychology

Trading psychology is actually a ‘thing.’ I once had a trading coach – an infinitely kind, generous, patient, uber positive day trader based out of Colorado. He was really into trading psychology and he consistently banged the drum on the importance of visualization, meditation, and forming a strong belief system supported by mindful practice. He got me reading Psycho Cybernetics and books by Tony Robbins, among many other things. This reading took me down a path of self-exploration deeper than any other self-improving attempt I’d made in the past. This was when trading had changed me.

I learned that most of what drives our decisions is conscious, but so much of what drives our actual actions is subconscious. A common action for traders is to right a wrong. When we lose, we become prone to overtrading or overcompensating for something we should’ve done instead. We try to make back what we lost or make what we should’ve made on something we ‘knew’ would work. The reality is, there is no certainty in markets and everybody knows this. Nor is there total certainty about anything in life.

I finished reading Market Wizards, a great book featuring interviews with top traders in the U.S. These traders all had their own unique strategies, their special recipes for success. What they had in common, however, led to their success: tested strategies, experience, persistence, the need to manage their losses, and learning to deal with the uncertainties of the market.

In this book was also an interview with Dr. Van K.Tharp, a psychologist who focuses on the psychology of trading. It was so fascinating to read about how this psychologist understands the thought process behind trading and has dedicated his work to helping traders get past mental and emotional road blocks in order to achieve their goals for success. Of course, I ordered one of his books from Amazon. I’ll be reading Super Trader – Make Consistent Profits in Good and Bad Markets over the next few weeks as I also read Edwin Lefevre’s Reminiscences of a Stock Operator.

Am I upset about missing the move on APH?  150% yes. Have I missed other amazing opportunities in the past? Yes, hundreds of times. Has that ever stopped me from making other decisions with good payoff? No. Will I miss other great opportunities in the future? Of course. Will I take other great opportunities in the future? You betcha.

The market will always be there. Opportunities will always present themselves. I will try to be ready for them, but I can’t catch them all. Learning and growing from these experiences is part of the fun and adventure of trading. I know I’ll get over this missed trade with APH. I hope that things work out with ECN and that I’ll have another few opportunities to buy more shares of it. One day, APH will present yet another opportunity and I will do my best to be ready.

 

Trading Dreams and Stocks to Watch

Trading Dreams Can Reveal Good Ideas 

I have always been prone to having work dreams after I’ve been at a place for a while. When I was a very active trader, price charts were a constant occurrence in my dreams in which they had the strangest capacities. For instance, I couldn’t open a door until a stock price went up another 50 cents. Or I couldn’t get to a party until I made $1000 on a trade, so I’d have three trades open. Weird stuff like that.

I had one profound dream where I was talking to my buddy about stocks. In real life, I knew he had gambled unsuccessfully on penny stocks and sports. In this dream, we were catching up while looking at a glass wall that had a stock chart on it.

He told me that he stopped wasting his time on penny stocks. Instead, he decided to keep things simple. He bought the stock of a company that made sense to him. This company started to become successful rather quickly. Every time he had extra savings, he would just buy more shares and increase his position. Over the next five years, the stock kept going higher in share price. As he explained this, the chart on the glass wall started to grow live on a timeline. The chart finally stopped moving once it reached the present day. At that point, he was up $18,000 with that one stock.

Scaling In

While I don’t believe it’s a good idea to put all your money into one stock, I do believe in the strategy of adding to a good position. At the time of this dream, I wasn’t confident enough in my own methods to add to any position. If anything, I was exiting too soon. Over the years, I got over my fears; it eventually became a practice I employ in the situations I feel most confident in.

I’ll often decide on a stock because I like the chart and its sector. My initial strategy might be shorter term. I might sell shares to take profits or lighten my position and just keep some shares for the longer term. Other times, I’ll change my outlook. If the chart and the stock show more potential for longer term growth, I’ll buy more shares of it at the next opportune setup.

I don’t think of investment decisions in definite terms because there’s no way to predict exactly how much you’re going to make. I like the idea of interacting with your investments over time in order to be fluid with the demands of the market or to take advantage of new opportunities that come up.

My Own Stocks

The market has been doing a nicely controlled correction – thankfully, it hasn’t dropped rapidly. I don’t know if it will react further to the news next week if we find out for sure that interest rates will go up. The market doesn’t like surprises, so if interest rates do go up, then there should be no major shock to the market. If anything, the anticipated news is already priced into the market and we can move on once it comes out.

I’ve been casually looking for stocks, yet I haven’t been very inspired by much of what I’ve seen out there. When this happens, I become more interested in watching how the stocks in my own TFSA portfolio are doing. Some of them are either consolidating nicely or seem to be doing their own thing. Here are some of my stocks that I might scale into:

  • ZPR.TO
  • MSI.TO
  • ECN.TO

These other ones I’ll be watching for more confirmations from the sector and/or market:

  • BBD.B.TO
  • EXE.TO
  • TECK.TO
  • APH.TO

This week, I was actually considering buying shares of APH.TO for the RRSP, but it’s not quite ready yet. I know this one is capable of developing really good patterns. Once I see the trading range tighten, the selling volume lessen, and a pattern improvement on the daily and weekly charts, then I’ll pick the price I’d like to enter at and I’ll put in an order. I’ll give it another couple of weeks. If it ends up going up while I’m waiting for these things to align, I won’t be too concerned if I miss the run. It will either set up again later or I’ll find something else.


N.B.

The last thing I want to do is to make stock calls for the purpose of getting others to pump up my own stocks. I tend to pick stocks that trade higher in volume, so price jumps are less likely to occur unless A LOT of investors step in. I lack that kind of influence – this is a low-key blog, not BNN. I expect investors to do their own necessary due diligence before making investment decisions.