Money Talks

 

Recently, I did a presentation at the Toronto Public Library on investment basics. I had no idea how it would turn out, but I ran through my head a number of best and worst-case scenarios. It was better than I could’ve ever imagined.

I’d never seen a more diverse audience in age, background, and investment interests. Each person was comfortable enough to engage or ask questions – great questions, I might add. To all those who attended, I’d like to offer my deepest gratitude for your participation. This was the conversation I’ve been dying to have with people. This is the type of conversation more Canadians need to have with each other.

Today I’m going to share with you the questions that I can remember. I’ll add parts of my original answers, but I want to answer the questions more fully. These are in no particular order.


How long does it take for you to do your investment research each week?

Now, it’s a few hours a week, anywhere from two to six hours. But I also apply up to 20,000 hours of previous learning and experience. I hope that I can help others enough so that you don’t have to take as long as I did to learn how to invest.

I’d like to also add that many of my decisions result from bouncing ideas off my man, JP. He has put in the time and discipline to learn as well. We have the advantage of combined knowledge and experience. I share a lot of these very ideas in my weekly blog.

As much as I’d like to spend more time doing research and trading more actively, I would become more prone to micro-managing my trades. I’ve done a lot better with a more passive and hands-off approach.

How did you get a 70% return last year?

2015 was a terrible year for the Canadian market. The loonie and the Canadian economy were weak. We patiently waited for the market to stop going down. This happened around late February 2016. We looked for stocks that we knew traded actively and had suffered huge drops in share price. It was a very good time to get into the market. These opportunities don’t come very often.

We bought shares in TECK.B.TO, ECA.TO, BBD.B.TO when they were really cheap, and then in April, bought some APH.V (now APH.TO). We bought a few other stocks, but these few alone did very well after just a few months. We kept selling shares incrementally each time the stocks surged in order to secure profits (called ‘selling into the strength’), but they kept going up. We could’ve done much better had we just kept the shares in and moved up our stops (selling prices). It became a decision between banking on certain profits and waiting to see what will happen. We did a bit of both and we still have shares in all those stocks.

I don’t anticipate as big a return this year, unless the market has a major correction, soon after which there’ll be many more big buying opportunities (a bad and selfish thing to wish and wait for, I know, but…). My US portfolio, though, has been my big winner this year because I had the same idea with US tech stocks last summer.

One of the things I always say is that investors are always looking for new opportunities.

What ETF should I buy?

Many financial institutions create ETFs. Some are:

  • BMO
  • Horizons
  • Vanguard
  • iShares
  • Claymore

When doing your research, consider your investment objective – dividend income, market index performance, sector selection (like banking), fixed income, etc. Also consider the MER, share price, distributions, and frequency of distribution payments, to name a few things. You can look up this information on the ETF info sheet. For me, I only select among ETFs with higher trade volume.

Market ETFs can swing a lot in price because of the demand of traders in the market. So the ETF might be worth more (or less) than its actual value (NAV). Would it make sense to put some money in a market index ETF and some in an index mutual fund (which will be less prone to price swings)?

If you want to invest in the market, consider an ETF or an index fund – or both. The major distinction between these is the MER as it’s a lot higher for mutual funds than it is for ETFs; however, it can be more affordable to buy units in an index fund than it would be to buy shares in an ETF.

An actively traded market ETF can experience more volatility than the actual index it’s based on. Its price will vary based on the demands of buyers in the market. If buyers drive the price up, it’s possible for the ETF to be worth more than the net asset value (NAV) of its assets, so you’re paying a premium in share price. If investors are fearful, heavy selling can drive its price down below its NAV, so it’ll be trading at a discount. For index funds, the NAV is what it is after the market closes. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t notice a big difference between similar index funds, be it an ETF or a mutual fund. (If you do, the mutual fund will likely be underperforming because of the MER.)

What’s most important is that you’re 1) comfortable in what you’re investing in, and 2) you’re not paying too much in fees.

What do you think of mortgage-backed securities?

These have had a bad reputation as these were hugely responsible for the 2008 recession, but mainly because they were deregulated. They’re just bundles of mortgage loans that pay investors interest.

If you’re after real estate income, the REIT (real estate income trust) is great because it can pay investors their share of the distributions which will come from a mix of rent, mortgage interest, capital gains, as well as return of capital. You can also get real estate ETFs. Because of the mixed forms of investment income that come from these, they’re best held in registered accounts. Also, keep in mind the MER. I own a couple of these to add diversification to my portfolio. Other than the value of real estate happening in my own backyard, I don’t really follow the real estate market as much as I should.

What brokerages do you use?

I have opened accounts in the past with Disnat Direct and Questrade. I now have accounts with Virtual Brokers and Interactive Brokers. I’ve been with the last two for years.

What do you pay in commissions per trade?

With Virtual Brokers, I pay 1 penny per share. It’s less if the stock price is under $1. With Interactive Brokers, it’s 1 penny per share, but a minimum of $1 per trade. So if I buy 125 shares, I pay $1.25 plus any market data fees.

Both of these accounts were opened as margin accounts – trading on margin means you need to open with and maintain a minimum amount of cash in the account which allows you  3 times the buying power. So if you open with $25,000, your buying power is $75,000. To attract active traders, the commission fees are very low.

I also have TFSA and RRSP accounts with Virtual Brokers (VB). Thanks to JP’s slick skills in negotiation, we managed to have the same awesome rates extend from the margin account to our registered accounts. Often with registered accounts, you get charged a quarterly administrative fee. With VB, they do charge $25 plus HST unless your account has a minimum of $5000 in it.

I am an active FOREX trader. How should I be doing my taxes every year?

With an accountant. I did our taxes the first couple of years we started day trading. I had the advice of a friend who’s an accountant. She gave me samples on how to calculate the adjusted cost base of securities and their exchange rates, etc. It was actually a really good exercise in learning about taxation for the self-employed and how to factor in fees and expenses; on the other hand, it was a total headache. After that, we started using an accountant who magically does it all in a few days.

What is your take on robo-advisors?

They’re great if you don’t know what stocks or ETFs to buy, or when to sell them. They take away from you the inconvenience of guessing and researching and they make those decisions for you. I’d just be cautious about the frequency that the portfolio is rebalanced and focus on the ones that meet your criteria and charge the lowest fees. As you get more comfortable and savvy with reading the market, you should compare how your portfolio is performing against it and decide then if you might be better off investing in an ETF.

What is your advice for women and their investment choices, especially as they age?

Women have developed a reputation for being great long-term investors because we typically make conservative, less risky decisions. I feel that the financial markets have shifted so that being conservative could work against us in the long-term. Those traditionally conservative decisions, like owning a lot of GICs and low-risk mutual funds, could leave us with less money than what we actually need to have, especially as we live longer and longer. We should be thinking about how our portfolios need to keep generating income as we age. In my opinion, we should consider dedicating more of our portfolio to more medium-risk choices, like blue chip funds or stocks that pay us a dividend.

I know I have a pretty aggressive approach when it comes to making money, but I’m careful with most of my money and more risky with a smaller amount of it (or maybe that’s just what I tell myself and it’s more like half and half). A big part of my own early retirement plan is to live off of dividends, although I still want to make money on capital gains if I have to sell my shares to rebalance my portfolio.

What are good websites that could tell me more about Canadian securities?

I drew a blank – thank you to the audience members for their helpful input. Motley Fool Canada and Retire Happy were mentioned. I also think that Canadian Couch Potato and My Own Advisor are excellent.

You must have a really diverse portfolio?

Yes. It not only keeps things interesting, it spreads and reduces the risk factors within my portfolio. A lot of my trade decisions come from looking at the sector or industry first. That’s why the economy is a big part of my book. I have stocks and ETFs across many different sectors.

I risk very little for each stock, so I’m not worried if it turns out to be a dud (a rare occurrence). After a while, if I like a stock enough, I’ll buy more shares if there’s a new entry (called scaling in).

How do you research fundamentals?

I said I cared about two things: the price I got in at and dividends. I’ll admit, it was a shortcut answer. I don’t pay as much attention as I should to the fundamentals mainly because I learned about stocks from traders who studied price charts and used only technical analysis. When it comes down to it, even if a company’s fundamentals look good, if the stock price has gone too far up or isn’t trading well, I just won’t enter.

I use technical analysis for all my decisions and I apply very general guidelines when considering a company’s fundamentals. One day, I’d like to take the time to figure out how to use both forms of analysis to become an even better trader. For now, I rely on good charts that indicate signs that a trend is about to start; I look at the sector the stock is in; and I compare the stock to other stocks in its sector. Then I cross my fingers hoping that the rest of the market catches on and buys the stock up.


We all have different ideas on what we want to do with our money. There are so many different ways to apply strategies, even between people who have similar takes on risk and opportunity. What I think we all need to have is a general basis of knowledge and from there, we each can branch out and find our own approach to investing.

Thank you, TPL! I had a wonderful evening.

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: Market Timing

Action Taken for the Week of February 28th
  • Deposited $150.00, giving me $150.48 of available cash in the RRSP.

At the time of writing, the net equity in my account is $1771.02. I’ve contributed $1750.00 in total to the RRSP. I’m up $21.01 so far. $2.10 of that is from a ZPR dividend payment received in early February.


The Canadian market has gone up six months straight. The U.S. market has gone up four months straight. On top of that, the trading volume has declined – a sign of the market running out of the steam needed to keep going straight up. There is nothing I would love more than for the market to have a little correction – that is, a little selloff – before going up again for another leg. I would feel more confident in making a new trade if this happened.

 

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The S&P TSX Capped Composite Index Fund ETF chart on freestockcharts.com

 

 

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The S&P 500 ETF Trust chart on freestockcharts.com

 

Market timing means timing your trade entries and exits with the stock market moves. It’s more of a shorter-term strategy. When the market is on its way up, you buy. When it begins its move down, you sell.

A lot of people rag on market timing and its futility. I don’t blame them. It’s not easy to estimate and it’s impossible to be right and exact all the time. On CNBC, the analysts and traders always goad each other into making short and long-term predictions and when one is right over the other, they really rub it in! It’s pretty entertaining. It doesn’t really matter because, in the long run (we’re talking years), the stock market generally goes up as it has historically for decades upon decades. Why is this so?

Investors, by nature, are optimistic. You invest because you believe there’s a decent chance you’re going to make money. When optimism shifts to pessimism (due to recessions, world events, interest rate hikes, etc.), investors sell to take their profits or reduce their exposure during a downturn, or as in my case, hold off on making new investments.

So what happens if your market timing is off? Well, if you bought at the height of action before a turnaround, you’ll just have to wait until you’re back in the positive. No matter what, don’t panic. These downturns are more temporary in nature.

There are ways to be impacted less by market timing. The general goal is that over the course of your life as an investor, you’re accumulating assets and creating a diverse portfolio. If your portfolio is diverse enough, a part of it should be performing better than the other part of it during a market dip. When the market is strong again, most of your assets should be doing well. Then, you’ll eventually get rid of the ones that don’t meet your minimum expectations regardless the market and sector. After years go by, you’ll be beyond caring about market timing as most sound securities pass the test of time and should increase in value.

Why do I care about market timing? I simply prefer to take positions at the start of the uptrend. I learned to look for signs that a trend might be tiring out and if I do enter a trade, it’s with fewer shares and moderate expectations. I watch the market enough that I’m able to pay attention to where I’m positioning myself within the trend (at the beginning, mid-trend, near a top).

Before taking another position for the RRSP, I’m going to hold off until later in the month to see if there will be a correction, or if the market will take a bit of a breather that will be more apparent on the shorter time frame of the weekly chart. The only way I’d break this commitment is if I saw a perfect setup (to-die-for charts on all time frames, volume action, sector making a new move, and the market had sold off, yet the stock wasn’t affected).

This is actually a good time to look for stocks in the middle of setting up. That way, I’ll be ready with options when the timing is better.

 

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: Post #6

Actions Taken:
  • Bought 50 shares of Liquor Stores N.A. (ticker symbol: LIQ.TO) at $10.46 this morning
  • 50 shares x $10.46= $523.00 plus 0.50 cents in commission. I paid $523.50.
  • I also deposited another $300 this week because I got birthday money (my parents-in-law tend to spoil me!)
  • There is now $535.60 left to be invested for the next opportunity

Alcohol is a consumer staple that will carry people through good and bad times. For this reason, I believe it’s a good portfolio staple. Right now, what I want to do for this RRSP account is start it off with some solid stocks. I like to think of it as having good wardrobe basics in your closet first before leaping to more flashy and frilly gear!

This wonderful stock also pays a monthly dividend. I own this already in my TFSA at a nice lower price of $7.88. I like it because it pays a monthly dividend (currently at 0.03 cents a share).


liq

It’s possible this could go lower in price. The pattern setups on the daily and weekly charts don’t inspire excitement and confidence in me. I do, however, like the clean setup on the monthly chart. To me, the larger time frame is more important than the shorter time frames. The current entry at $10.46 is close to where it last sold off at $9.80 as indicated by the pink arrow.

In case this stock doesn’t go down and continues higher from this place, I took action and bought 50 shares. If the setup were a bit better, I would’ve bought more shares. 

If it does go down more in price and then sets up again later on with a nice consolidation pattern, then you can bet I’ll be buying more shares!

 

Couples Who Invest Together Stay Together…Right?

Beach Talk

“What do you mean you have a bunch of money just sitting there?!?”

My forever man, JP, one of the calmest people I’ve ever known, had a mini conniption when I casually told him that I had a large chunk of uninvested cash in my TFSA. I had no explanation to offer other than a sulky, “I’ve been too busy to figure out what to get.” Saying that to someone who is busier than you won’t get you far. Thankfully, this conversation happened on a sunny beach in Florida last week, so it wasn’t hard for him to simmer back down in the face of my cringe-worthy apathy.

“Just buy anything that pays a dividend. Buy more shares of ZPR or SPB. Anything. How else are we going to retire in five to ten and live off dividends if you don’t have those shares? You know what to do. All your money should be working,” he gently advised before taking a deep swig of his particularly strong grapefruit juice and returning to his beach reading. 

I couldn’t argue with him about putting your money to good use – I tell people to do this all the time, after all. Now that I’m back from vacation and resettling into my icy reality, I’m ready to hunker down and start looking for stocks again.

We ‘Split Up’ and Went Our Separate Ways

When we were learning about stocks, JP and I started off trading together. However, we discovered the hard way that we often had different ideas that threatened the other’s need to try something a little off-script. We then split our account into two and started to operate separately. As our respective accounts grew, so did the number of accounts. We each now have three trading accounts.

We now share our ideas, but that doesn’t mean we act on them. Sometimes we’ll take the exact same trade, entry and all, but many of our trades are done without telling the other until later. It was when we started making independent decisions that we started to see our respective portfolios truly take off. The reason I think this improvement in portfolio performance happened is because we wouldn’t get shaken out of our positions due to fear of trade criticism.

In chat rooms, I’ve seen traders and investors criticize each other’s decisions. This is why I left chat rooms. People always share ideas and then sometimes scare each other out of taking chances or out of the trades they already took. It’s already bold enough to take a position, the last thing you need is an outside voice to instill fear or add doubt. If you invest from a position of little faith, you will have incredible difficulty at succeeding financially.

Whether or not we totally agree with each other’s stock picks, JP and I support and trust each other’s decisions because we share the same long-term vision. We want to have a second property in a hot place, we want most of our income to come from our investments, and we want to help others learn how to achieve their financial goals through investing.  Most importantly, we want to help each other become better investors.

Moving Forward in Harmony

For 2017, I resolved to be less of a ragtag investor. JP is so disciplined in that he reviews our stock portfolios – mine and his – almost every day and then he emails me (so I don’t misplace it) his watch list of stocks to pay attention to. I have missed many opportunities. Maybe I should just post his lists for my readers?

I am trying to be more organized and watchful of my stocks. I’m working on being more proactive with my investment ideas, and thanks to weekly blogging, I’m getting a bit better at it. It’s only February so I won’t beat myself up over how far I have yet to go. 

There is rarely a completely straight and easy path to any goal, but my conversation with my partner in life and business reminded me that it’s time to get back on track and to contribute more to our joint efforts. Our future beach bum selves are counting on it.

The Transparent RRSP: Post #1

My Objectives for the Transparent RRSP:

  1. To teach and encourage people new to stock investing; and
  2. To make this account grow through regular contributions, market value, and investment income.

My Feelings About the Transparent RRSP:

Nervous and excited! You can buy a stock and be under water for a long time only to have it reverse and become your portfolio’s darling for a long time thereafter. Conversely, you can buy a stock and only ever see grow, grow, and grow in share price. I don’t know what to expect performance-wise, but my plan is to be prudent, strategic, and aware of a new stock investor’s perspective.

Actions Taken So Far:

  • Contributed $1000 to my RRSP through my discount brokerage, Virtual Brokers
  • Bought 50 shares of ZPR at $10.86

Some Points on the RRSP

Here are the main advantages of having an RRSP as long as you keep the money in the plan:

  • RRSP contributions may be deducted from your income to reduce taxation
  • Gains from the investments in your RRSP are not taxed

A big reason why I like RRSPs as a starting point is that contributing more means you can have a bigger tax return later. Why? Not so that you can go shopping with your return. My philosophy has always been to invest the tax return on top of what you have to contribute. Compound, compound, compound!

In my opinion, compounding savings + investing is the most crucial strategy you can employ as an investor who is starting out. I stress the importance of budgeting so that you’re able to contribute as much of your cash early on in your time horizon. A strong head start leads to an even stronger finish. 

Only when you make withdrawals from the plan will you be taxed on the income you used to contribute to the RRSP, plus any of the gains from trade profits and investment income. For this reason, I have a long-term outlook for my RRSP. I invest more aggressively with a shorter-term outlook for my TFSA because I want to have an account that I can withdraw from to ‘pay myself’ without getting taxed.

There are a lot of other advantageous features of the RRSP, such as the Home Buyers’ Plan, the Lifelong Learning Plan, and the Spousal RRSP. I get into these a bit in my book. There are a lot more ways you can juke and jive with your RRSP’s many features to really maximize the tax deductions and tax deferrals. But first, let’s invest in it!


Trade #1 for the Transparent RRSP

Today I bought 50 shares of an ETF called ZPR, the BMO Laddered Preferred Share Index ETF. I already own this in my TFSA and it’s one of those stocks I will buy over and over again because it’s very affordable and pays a monthly dividend. Affordable income-generating shares = the more shares I can buy, the more income I get! I have a feeling ZPR and I are going to grow old together. There are a lot of other comparable ETFs out there, but this one so far meets my own personal preferences of trading volume and price.

I don’t expect it to move like crazy in share price, but a considerable amount of its holdings are in Enbridge and financials which means it could have a good run if oil and the banks do.

50 shares at $10.86 = $543. My commission is a penny per share* so I paid 0.50 cents in commission. Today I paid $543.50 altogether, leaving me with $456.50 to invest. I didn’t want to use up all of my 1K in case something else comes up that I cannot pass up, like a great cheap stock or maybe a better ETF. I get paid this week, so for the sake of compounding, I’ll add more to this account.


*Not all my trades are a penny per share. Some of them are less, depending on the share price. Additionally, once every quarter, I have to do a trade at the full price of $6.50+ so that I don’t get charged an inactivity fee of $24.95 plus tax. My commission structure with Virtual Brokers is an old one from years ago and until now, I’ve been quite happy with these guys. I think the commissions and structure are quite different now, but are still inexpensive. Virtual isn’t paying me to write this either. Do your research on discount brokerage accounts and select the one that best suits the likely frequency of your trades.

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A VB freebie from the Moneyshow!

 

Stock Picking 5: Selling

Before I discuss selling stocks, let’s do a recap of the Stock Picking posts up until now.

Part 1: Looking for Stocks

Here, I introduce my stock searching process for Canadian and US stocks. I feel more confident in stocks that have higher trading volume. I look for major Canadian stocks under $20 that trade over 10,000 shares a day. For US stocks, they must be over $5 and average at least 500,000 shares a day.

Part 2: Determine Your Investment Goals

I talk about the different reasons you might want to buy stocks. There are different stocks for different investment objectives better suited by shorter or longer-term time horizons. Whether the time horizon is short, medium, or long, I like to get in early before a stock’s price really starts to take off. To determine this, I look at a stock’s price history chart. For shorter-term trades, I seek additional information by looking at the charts of a stock’s corresponding sector and the market.

Part 3: Factoring in the Sectors and the Stock Market

I generally look for stocks in a sector that has been quiet for a while and is just starting to warm up. I’m not as concerned if a sector has been lagging the market, as long as it’s not going down the tubes, especially if the market isn’t. If I’m interested in several stocks in a sector that is starting to heat up, then I’ll pick the stocks that meet my criteria in volume, price, and charts.

No Stock Picking Here. Just Buy the Market Through ETFs

Stock picking is not for everyone as it’s hard to outperform the market. It’s a matter of strategy, research, and some luck. You can simplify the whole process if you ‘buy the market’ by buying the market index ETF. What’s great is that you can also get extra money from an ETF’s distributions or dividends. You can buy ETFs for the Canadian, US, or international markets, or even sector ETFs. You can have a whole portfolio of just ETFs to meet a variety of investment objectives!

Part 4: Investment Income

Here, I discuss my interest in stocks that pay dividends and how I invest in the blue chippy stocks for my retirement fund. What a great source of income as you can also enjoy a profit if you sell your shares later on at a higher price! For these income-generating stocks, I’m less concerned about their sectors.


Part 5: Selling Your Shares

Objective: To determine when to sell some or all of your stock.

Why Sell Your Shares?

Here are a few reasons to:

  • Bank profits
  • Rebalance your portfolio because you’re aging and you need to reduce your riskier assets
  • You need the money to spend or to invest in other things
  • Tax-loss selling (a capital loss can be subtracted from other capital gains, thus further reducing taxation on profits)
  • Play defense because there’s been an interest rate hike or a recession, so you want to lower your exposure and risk
  • Your stock stops paying a dividend
  • Your stock’s company or sector is in trouble and this is affecting the share price
  • Your stock is an underperforming dud
Banking Profits for Retirement

My retirement fund will consist mostly of investment income-producing assets. I’m optimistic to a fault. This means I sit back thinking that most of the dividend-paying stocks for my retirement fund will be worth a lot more in share price too. When I’m a spry elderly lady, livin’ large, and planning my next world adventure, I’ll sell some of those shares and use the massive profits to pay for my trip. If the markets reach exaggerated highs, I might sell some shares to buy a decent annuity.

Banking Profits for My Swing Trades

For my swing trades, I try to give a stock time as it moves within the profit zone, which is anywhere significantly higher than what I paid in share price. I look at the price charts to try to determine how far they’ll go before they experience a major selloff.

It’s a lot more realistic to expect a cheaper stock to double, triple, or increase multiple times in value. Once my investment has more than doubled in value, I usually sell half to 2/3rds of the shares and keep the rest of my shares in for the longer term. This way, I get back my principal investment and I can reinvest it along with the profits in another stock. If the remaining shares don’t keep going up in share price, I’ll sell them for a smaller profit — or break even at worst.

I’ve mentioned before that I like my Canadian stocks cheaper because my Canadian trading account is less funded. I also like them cheaper because I can buy more shares. I find that in general, Canadian stocks don’t move as quickly in price. I can still make money, even with smaller price moves, since I have a lot of shares. For my US swing trades, I use fewer shares than I do for Canadian stocks because they’re more expensive.

US stocks are good for swing trades mainly because they usually can move a lot more in price in a shorter amount of time than Canadian stocks. In other words, they get a lot of price action. I look for stocks that move on average at least $1 in share price in a day. The downside is, when stocks move faster, you have to act faster. If you’re not paying attention, it might get right into the profit zone and then sell off more quickly than it took to get there.

For more expensive stocks, it will take much longer for your total investment to double in its full value. This can take years. Sometimes you’ll have a jackpot situation where there’s a buyout; however, you can’t just wait and hope for these rare events to happen. So what swing traders do is decide how much of their investment they’re willing to risk losing (not all) and see if they stand to gain at least twice, three times or more that amount.

What…?

A lot of traders talk about ‘stops’ to minimize losses. A stop is basically your uncle point where you decide it’s better to take a calculated loss at a certain price than to lose more than that. Once a stop is determined, a trader will calculate how much he or she expects to gain and whether it’s realistic given the stock’s chart, its sector, the market, etc.


I’ll break down here how stops and setting targets work

lulu

  • Let’s say you bought 100 shares of a stock trading at $59.00 per share. Your investment is $5900. But there’s no way you want to lose an entire $5900 if things go south. And how long will it take for the stock to double in price to $118 a share? 
  • You might determine through analysis of its price history and other data that you will not accept a loss lower than $54 per share. You don’t want to lose more than $5 per share, which is $500. So of your $5900 investment, you’re only risking $500 of it. 
  • For this trade to be worth it, you want to at least get double the money you’re risking. Some traders want more, some are okay with less, it’s a personal thing for each person.
  • Take the $5 risk and to get double the reward would mean a $10 price increase at $69.00 ($1000 profit). Triple reward is a $15 increase at $74.00 ($1500 profit). All because you were willing to risk $500 of your investment.

This is a trade I actually took this week. It had a good earnings report (are see-through yoga pants back in style?) and it jumped close to the triple reward zone. It was good enough for me, so I sold 80% of my shares at $71.90.

For my remaining 20%, I’ll hang on to see if it’ll keep going up. Each time it surpasses another risk-reward multiple ($74, $79, $84, $89), I’ll move the stop up on that. If it breaches any of those multiples, I’ll sell the rest.


I use a very loose form of the stop method as I found it to be a pain to bother with stops. I found that with most of these trades if I’d waited a bit longer, I wouldn’t have taken a loss–instead, I would’ve ended up with a huge gain. I found that once I started to set more loosey goosey expectations as to what I’m willing to lose and what I expect to gain, my trading account started to flourish. Yes, I am a loosey goosey swing trader.

I find that if the stock is of a good company in a strong sector, even if you had to endure the discomfort of underperformance, the only thing you really lose is time. Because once the stock really starts to rock, it was totally worth the wait.

This is why sectors are important. If the sector is strong and your stock is strong or stronger than the sector, then you reduce the chance of sitting painfully through negative numbers. If, however, your stock is much weaker than its sector and is going down while the sector is going up, then there could be something else going on with the company that you might have to look into.

Having said all this, I’m not saying to ignore your threshold for losses. You must figure out what works best for you and trade responsibly out of respect for your money. For me, a good swing trade is more than just price action. It’s a combination of factors such as the company, its sector, and the market. Since I consider multiple reasons, I’m okay with waiting out the unforeseen downturns and I don’t totally wig out if the price gets a little out of whack.

Thanks to a diverse portfolio, I only ever have a small fraction of underperformers while the others do well. Sometimes these turn a corner and become the top performers in my portfolio.


Swing Trading is NOT for Everybody

Why do I swing trade? I don’t live much of a structured life (although I sometimes crave one) nor do I have dependents. I have a higher risk tolerance so I can endure the dry spells and downturns and patiently wait for the profits. I’m quite happy to aggressively grow my account in the mid-term while my more solid stocks grow for the long-term. It’s exciting, interesting, engaging, and I can go on about the fun I get out of being tapped into the markets.

Making money like this isn’t for everybody. I’m only sharing my strategies so that curious readers will have a better idea of what I do with my own money. All of what I write is only for information sharing purposes.

While there is a risk component to any kind of investing, there are many ways to reduce that risk with good diversification. To do this effectively, it’s good to be knowledgeable, even of the investment basics. Most working people, in my opinion, are better off saving regularly for their goals and investing their extra savings with a part of it in conservative stocks and ETFs that pay a dividend. No doubt, a lot of money can be made this way!

Stock Picking 4: Investment Income

Part 4: Earning Investment Income from Stocks

Objective: To buy and hold dividend-paying stocks in my retirement fund.


Over the last couple of months, I’ve held off making any long-term buys for my retirement portfolio as I wanted to wait until after the US election. Now that it’s over, I can see how the markets, sectors, and stocks from both Canada and the US reacted. For the last week, JP and I had been watching stocks and making decisions on what to hold for the long haul. If there’s one thing they all have in common, they all pay a dividend.

The Dividend Income Strategy

The big goal  with stocks is to be able to sell your shares at a higher price for a capital gain or profit. When stocks give their shareholders a dividend, then it makes it less desirable to sell your shares as they’re now a source of income!

If you’re buying stocks purely for dividend income, then the price you pay per share and what the sector and market are doing at the time have little significance. It’s intended as a long-term strategy and the idea is that over time, a dividend-paying stock of a good company should go up in value the longer it’s around and able to maintain dividend payments to its shareholders.

For me, these stocks are intended for my retirement fund. I’m still decades away from retiring, so I haven’t sold these stocks yet! With lesser ability to work and fewer job options, I want to have an investment source of income, and dividends are just that. In my opinion, this is the most simple form of stock investing and from a long-term perspective, the wisest.

If you have a blue chip company like a big bank or utility company you’d like to invest in for dividends, then you can accumulate shares over time, buying whenever it suits you. For me, when my stock goes down in price, I plan to buy more shares as it’s more affordable. I met a guy who buys shares of just one bank stock — his bank. He watches the stock price and whenever his stock takes a hit, he’s buying more shares. Over time, you can accumulate a lot of shares; the more shares you have, the more you make in dividend income.

So if you look up a stock on its company website, they’ll usually have its dividend payment schedule as well as what they pay their shareholders for each share they own. It’s usually on a quarterly basis, but sometimes dividends are paid monthly.

Here are some things to note:

  • Not all companies pay a dividend as they don’t HAVE to;
  • Companies don’t always pay the same amount in dividends each time – they can pay more or less each time;
  • Companies can suspend dividend payments for periods of time if it financially makes sense for them – doing this can often make the stock price go down;
  • If you’re receiving dividends from a Canadian company, you get a tax credit, so you can hold these stocks in non-registered accounts;
  • If the company or your brokerage doesn’t have the DRIP (dividend reinvestment plan) feature to automatically buy more shares, the dividend income just goes into your investment account and you can reinvest it at your discretion;
  • If you’re receiving dividends from US companies, then you should hold these stocks in your RRSP as we have an agreement with the US that investment income in retirement accounts won’t be subject to international withholding tax.

My dividend-paying stocks so far are in utilities, energy, finance, and consumer staples. My discount brokerage doesn’t offer the DRIP option, so the money just comes in regularly into my investment account and it’s nice to see my portfolio increase in value from both the capital appreciation of my stocks and from regular dividend payments.

If you’re off stock picking, you can also buy shares of a dividend income ETF. The dividends that are generated by the stocks in the fund are paid to you in the form of distributions (but also often called dividends). I, too, own a preferred share laddered ETF that pays me a substantial dividend every month!


 Generating a regular investment income from solid dividend-paying stocks of Canadian companies is a great strategy for the long term!