Decumulate & Downsize

Most of your investing life you and your adviser (if you have one) are focused on wealth accumulation. But, we tend to forget, eventually the whole idea of this long process of delayed gratification is to actually spend this money! That’s decumulation as opposed to wealth accumulation. This stage may also involve downsizing from larger homes to smaller ones or condos, moving to the country or otherwise simplifying your life and jettisoning possessions that may tie you down.

Timeless Financial Tip #8: Six Enduring Insights for Fixed-Income Investing

Lowrie Financial: Canva Custom Creation

By Steve Lowrie, CFA

Special to Financial Independence Hub

When’s the last time someone tried to talk you into chasing a “hot” Treasury bond run — NOW, before it’s too late!

Probably never, right?

Most of us recognize that’s not what fixed-income investing is for. Bonds create stability; stocks and alternatives are where the excitement is at.

And yet, I often see people forgetting this timeless truth, or at least investing as if they have. Plus, to further complicate things, not all bonds are created equal. This can trick you into thinking you’re playing it safe …  just before a big blow-out takes you by surprise.

Following are 6 best practices for fixed-income investing across all kinds of markets, whether rates are rising, falling, or in a holding pattern.

1.) Let your Plans Lead the Way

Our first point is the same “play it again” tip we want you to apply across all your investments — from the safest GIC, to the edgiest emerging markets. Even though we’ve said it before, such as in my past post, The Timely and Timeless Roles of Fixed Income Investing, it bears repeating:

“If there’s one principle that drives all the rest, it’s the importance of having your own detailed investment plan … In the absence of a plan, undisciplined investors instead struggle to predict how, when, and if it’s time to react to unknowable events over which they have little control. While there is no guarantee that your plan will deliver the outcomes for which it’s been designed, we believe that it represents your best interests and your best odds for achieving your personal goals.”

2.) Don’t be Distracted by “This Time, It’s Different”

Instead of letting the shifting tides overtake decades of empirical evidence, repeat after me:

Stocks: Stocks have long been a most effective tool for pursuing new wealth over time and preserving your purchasing power by outpacing inflation. However, along with their higher expected long-term returns, they’ve also delivered a much bumpier ride, which increases the uncertainty that you may not ultimately achieve your particular goals.

Bonds: Bonds have been a good tool for dampening stocks’ volatility, giving you a better chance of remaining on track. They can also contribute modestly to your total returns, but that shouldn’t be their primary role.

The trick is, while stocks have outperformed bonds over the long run, that doesn’t mean they’re always outperforming. There have been times, such as in 2022, when stocks and bonds declined in unison. The markets have gone topsy-turvy, and bonds have outperformed stocks for longer periods of time.

We’ll undoubtedly see times again, along with the inevitable proclamations that we’re (yet again) in a new financial order, and that (once again) the old rules no longer apply.

At least to date, such pronouncements have been wrong every time. That’s likely due at least in part to our next bedrock assumption, which has ultimately crushed them so far.

3.) Benefit from Bond Pricing Basics

One reason bonds tend to be more stable than stocks is their inherently different pricing processes:

Stock Pricing: Stock prices are cobbled together from the market’s collective and ever-shifting guesstimates. Such pricing is relatively efficient over the long run, but often a hot mess in real time.

Bond Pricing: Bond pricing is different. When a bond is issued, or if it is trading in the open market, you know the price you can pay today, the price you will receive when it matures, and the interest payments you’ll receive along the way. Putting all of that together means you can neatly calculate a bond’s return if you hold it to maturity. In bond speak, this is called “yield to maturity” (YTM). Computers can also calculate the YTM for entire pooled bond investments like bond funds or ETFs.

A bond’s YTM won’t change. What will change is how much it’s worth if traded prior to maturity in secondary markets. There, an existing bond’s resale value will rise and fall relative to rising and falling yields in the marketplace.

The future remains uncertain for stocks and bonds alike. But since upcoming returns are already baked into a bond’s yields, the increased — if still imperfect — pricing knowledge translates into a smoother ride, along with a reduced risk premium.

In other words, breaking news may alter prices, but not the pricing process. In addition, bond holders are creditors, whereas stock holders are owners. In the event of a company failure, creditors are more likely than owners to recover their capital.

Understanding these distinctions, it’s easier to accept the timeless role bonds play in your portfolio.

4.) Understand what Central Banks can (and cannot) Do for Us

Perhaps the most frothy bond market news comes from the rivers of rate changes continuously flowing out of the world’s central banks, especially the U.S. Federal Reserve. Each adjustment is accompanied by a rush of coverage on yields, spreads, curves, short- and long-term rates, and so on. It all sounds important. But is it?

Central bank rate changes are useful data points for understanding how global bond markets operate over time. But they should not be a major influence on your immediate investment activities. A recent Dimensional Fund Advisors paper, “Considering Central Bank Influence on Yields,” helps us understand why this is so. Analyzing the relationship between U.S. Federal Reserve policies on short-term interest rates versus wider, long-term bond market rates, the authors found: Continue Reading…

9 Business Leaders share best Opportunities for Wealth Accumulation

Image by Pexels

To shed light on effective wealth-building strategies, we’ve gathered insights from nine experts in the field, including investment specialists, financial advisors, and more.

From the importance of diversifying your portfolio and investing in yourself to the consistent investment in stock indices, these professionals share their top investment opportunities and asset classes that have proven particularly effective in securing financial independence.


  • Diversify Your Portfolio and Invest in Yourself
  • Prioritize Exchange Traded Funds (EFTs)
  • Look into Home Ownership and 401(k) Investments
  • Make Systematic Progress Across Asset Classes
  • Generate Passive Income with a Niche Website
  • Build Wealth through Real Estate
  • Focus on Healthcare and Nutraceuticals
  • Seek Rental Property Investments
  • Be Consistent with Investment in Stock Indices

Diversify your Portfolio and Invest in Yourself

One investment opportunity that has proven particularly effective in building and securing financial independence is a diversified portfolio that includes a mix of equity, bonds, and alternative assets. 

This strategy allows for exposure to different asset classes, mitigating risk while aiming for growth. Equities provide the potential for high returns, bonds offer stability and income, and alternative assets such as real estate, commodities, or private equity can add further diversification and potentially enhance returns. 

However, it’s essential to emphasize that investing in oneself has been the best investment of all. Personal and professional development, education, and acquiring new skills have consistently yielded substantial returns over time. These investments enhance earning potential, open up new opportunities, and empower individuals to adapt to changing circumstances. Ahmed Henane, Investment Specialist and Financial Advisor, Ameriprise Financial

Prioritize Exchange Traded Funds (EFTs)

The equity market is the single greatest wealth creator for investors. If someone has 10 years or more as their time horizon for investing, then an equity growth mutual fund or ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) is highly recommended to build wealth. 

ETFs are very similar to mutual funds. ETFs typically represent a basket of securities known as pooled investment vehicles and trade on a stock exchange like individual stocks. A growth ETF is a diversified portfolio of stocks that has capital appreciation as its primary goal, with little or no dividends. 

One such investment would be the Vanguard Growth ETF (VUG/NYSE Area). This ETF is linked to the MSCI US Prime Market Growth Index, which offers exposure to large-cap companies within the growth sector of the U.S. equity market. Investors with a longer-term horizon ought to consider the importance of growth stocks and the diversification benefits they can add to any well-balanced portfolio. Scott Krase, Wealth Manager, Connor & Gallagher OneSource

Look into Home Ownership and 401(k) Investments

There isn’t any one asset class or investment opportunity I’d recommend over the other for the general populace. Those types of financial decisions are circumstantial and based on the needs of the client. 

Nonetheless, the two ways to “Build Wealth for Dummies” would be to purchase your home and invest in your 401(k). From a behavioral-finance perspective, the automatic contributions to these two vehicles have, more often than not, created better outcomes for clients. Rush Imhotep, Financial Advisor, Northwestern Mutual Goodwin, Wright

Make Systematic Progress across Asset Classes

A systematic progression across multiple asset classes has been successful in developing wealth and financial freedom. A cash-generating firm provides a stable financial basis for future projects. 

Real estate investing offers passive income and property appreciation, boosting financial security. Diversifying the portfolio with equities and other assets follows, harnessing the potential for exponential growth and mitigating risk through a well-balanced mix. However, amidst this multifaceted approach, it is crucial not to overlook the most pivotal investment: oneself. 

As Warren Buffett wisely advised, “Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy only when others are fearful.” Investing in self-improvement, education, and personal development enhances decision-making acumen and emotional resilience, providing the intellectual foundation to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of wealth accumulation.  Galib A. Galib, Principal Investment Analyst

Generate Passive Income with a Niche Website

A few years back, an affiliate website was launched in the personal finance niche. The payoff? Consistent ad revenue and affiliate commissions with minimal oversight, essentially becoming a self-sustaining income stream.

Running a website is not as time-consuming as commonly believed. After the initial setup and content, it just needs occasional updates. Soon enough, it turned into a low-maintenance income source. Continue Reading…

Dividend-Payers: The Volvo of Equities

Image from Outcome/Shutterstock

By Noah Solomon

Special to Financial Independence Hub

Crazy People is a 1990 American comedy starring Dudley Moore and Daryl Hannah. Moore plays advertising executive Emory Leeson. Leeson experiences a nervous breakdown, which causes him to design a series of “truthful” advertisements that are blunt and bawdy.

By mistake, his ads get printed and turn out to be a tremendous success. One of Leeson’s more memorable campaigns is for Volvos, which includes the tagline “Volvo — they’re boxy but they’re good.”

Dividend-paying stocks are like the Volvos of the investing world. They are not fancy or exciting, nor do they produce windfall profits over the short term. However, they have a lot going for them when you take a deeper look under the hood.

This month, I explore the historical performance of dividend-paying stocks, including the conditions under which they have tended to outperform their non-dividend-paying counterparts. Relatedly I will also discuss whether the current market environment is supportive of future outperformance.

A Caveat to the Volvo Analogy: Having your Cake and Eating it Too

The “Volvo — they’re boxy but they’re good” tagline implies a clear tradeoff: the suggestion being that one needs to sacrifice performance for reliability. However, the historical data imply that this has not been the case with dividend-paying stocks. Not only have they exhibited greater stability than their non-dividend-paying counterparts, but they have also produced higher returns, thereby providing investors with a “have your cake and eat it too” proposition.

S&P 500 Index vs. S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index (1990 – Present)

Since the beginning of 1990, the S&P 500 Index Dividend Aristocrats Index has produced an annualized total return of 11.7% vs. 10.1% for the S&P 500 Index. This difference in annualized performance has amounted to a tremendous difference in cumulative long-term returns, with the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index producing a cumulative return of 4,083% vs. a far less impressive 2,459% for the S&P 500 Index. In dollar terms, a $10 million investment in the S&P Dividend Aristocrats Index would have produced $408,334,999 in returns, which is 1.66 times more than the corresponding figure of $245,915,810 for the S&P 500 Index.

TSX Composite Index vs. TSX Dividend Aristocrats Index (2002 – Present)

The numbers for Canada tell a similar story, albeit over a shorter period due to historical data limitations for the TSX Dividend Aristocrats Index. Since 2002, the TSX Dividend Aristocrats Index has produced an annualized total return of 9.7% vs. 7.5% for the TSX Composite Index. In terms of cumulative performance, the TSX Dividend Aristocrats has produced a total return of 647.9% vs. 376.4% for the TSX Composite Index. In dollar terms, a $10 million investment in the TSX Dividend Aristocrats Index would have produced $64,790,379 in returns, which is 1.72 times more than the corresponding figure of $37,636,301 for the TSX Composite Index.

As an aside, the tremendous difference from 1990 to the present in the 2,459% cumulative return for the S&P 500 Index and that of 1,120% for the TSX Composite Index is largely attributable to the former’s far larger weighting in technology stocks. Between 1990 and 2010, the two markets were neck and neck, with the S&P 500 delivering a total return of 457% vs. 453% for the TSX. Since then, the S&P 500 went on to crush its northern neighbour, with a total return of 359% vs. 120%. During the same period, the mega-cap tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 knocked the lights out, returning 675%.

Tech stocks, and in particular mega-caps, have experienced tremendous earnings growth and trade at premium valuations. Whether their rates of growth continue, or premium multiples will persist, is beyond the scope of this commentary. That being said, there is no guarantee that these trends will persist, and relatedly whether the U.S. stocks will continue to outperform their Canadian counterparts.

Nice to Have in Strong Markets and Essential in Others

Dividends have historically been an integral part of equity market returns. Going back to 1990, a full 52.2% of the total return of the S&P 500 Index since 1990 can be attributed to the power of compounding reinvested dividends. On a relative basis, Canadian dividends have been even more prominent than U.S. ones, with reinvested dividends responsible for an astounding 63.3% of the total returns of the TSX Composite index.

Although dividends’ contributions to total market returns have been substantial over the past several decades, this contribution has tended to vary substantially over shorter sub-periods. As the table below demonstrates, dividends tend to play a smaller role in times of strong price appreciation. By contrast, during periods when capital gains have been muted, dividends play a far more substantial role in overall returns.

Contribution of Dividends to Total Returns: Rolling 12-Month Periods (1990 – Present)

Taking all 12-month rolling periods since 1990 in which the S&P 500 experienced price appreciation, dividends on average accounted for 18.8% of total returns. However, in periods where prices rose by 7% or more, dividends were responsible for only 13.6% of the total return pie vs. 38.9% when prices rose between 0% and 7%.

In Canada, the relative importance of dividends has also varied with capital gains. In all rolling 12-month periods since 1990 in which the TSX Composite Index experienced price appreciation, dividends were on average responsible for 25% of total returns. In those periods where prices rose by more than 7%, dividends’ share of total returns was only 15.6% as compared to 52.1% when prices rose between 0% and 7%. Continue Reading…

Were you nervous before you Retired?

I was recently asked that question, and it brought back a flood of memories from my “near-retirement” days.

I suspect most of us were nervous before we retired, but it’s not something we talk about.  I believe there’s value in sharing the psychological journey in those final days before retirement.  For folks nearing retirement, it’s reassuring to know they’re not alone.

Recently I had the opportunity to talk about it with a reader who is on the cusp of retirement. We had a wide-ranging discussion and the conversation became the trigger for today’s post.  I suspect many of the questions he asked are also on the minds of other readers who are approaching retirement.

This one’s for you, Mike.  Thanks for letting me share our discussion with the readers of this blog.  I trust they’ll all benefit from our discussion…


Were you nervous before you Retired?

That’s one of the questions a reader, Mike, asked me on a recent phone call.  Mike’s a month away from retirement and reached out to me a few weeks ago.  I typically decline reader requests for phone calls (unfortunately, a downside of writing a blog with a large following).  If I said yes to every request, I’d be spending far too much of my time helping folks on a one-on-one basis, time that could otherwise be spent writing and reaching thousands of people with the same effort. It’s a “scalability” thing, and I trust you understand.

However…there was something about Mike.

His initial email hit a chord with me.  Here’s what he said:

Good morning Fritz,

Have heard you on several podcasts and just finished your latest discussion with Jason Parker.  I will be retiring in January and your point about helping others hit a cord.  I would love the opportunity to speak with you about your blog.  I’m currently a financial advisor and feel there is a huge need for financial literacy for just about everyone.  As a former teacher, my passion is teaching/sharing.  Would like to understand better how you got started with your blog, what are some of the watch outs, and any other insights you could provide.

Thanks for your consideration and congratulations on living your best life!

What caught my attention?  The fact that he didn’t ask a single financial question and was focused on helping others. He had some ideas about teaching/sharing and he was considering starting a blog.  I appreciate readers applying the lessons I’m sharing in their lives and searching for Purpose in retirement.  I also had a bit more free time than I usually do, so I agreed to a phone call.

Following are some of the highlights of our discussion, in no particular order.  I trust you’ll find them of interest.

how do I retire

Questions From A Soon To Be Retiree

Should I start a Blog In Retirement?

My first reaction to any question that says “Should I start…” is to say yes.  It’s critical, especially in early retirement, to foster your creative curiosity and try anything that interests you.  Many won’t “stick,” but you’ll likely find a few that do.  Once you’ve found one or two, you’re on your way to a great retirement.

Mike has a passion for teaching and is exploring various avenues to reach others.  I strongly encourage anyone who has an interest in starting a blog to give it a try.  7 years ago, I started this blog on a whim.  I’m 100% self-taught and technically inept.  It’s easy to start a blog these days, with Bluehost and WordPress both designed for folks who have never built a website.  Starting this blog is one of the best things I’ve ever done and has become a Purpose of mine in retirement. I hope it works out as well for others who are considering it.

That said, it’s important to consider your motives.  If you’re doing it to make money, I suspect you’ll fail.  For 3 years, I wrote every week without making a dime and only started adding those annoying ads when I retired.  I get some complaints about them but believe I shouldn’t have to incur costs when there’s an option of generating some revenue for my “work.” As blogs grow, the costs increase (Mailchimp costs me $220/month based on my ~13k subscribers), and I felt it was time to at least cover my costs.  Making money has never been my motive, and it shouldn’t be yours.  Even now, after 7 years, the income from this blog basically pays my health insurance.  Nice to have, but not enough to change our life. Unless you’re in the 0.1%, you won’t get rich writing a blog. Continue Reading…

Tawcan: 10 lessons I’ve learned along the FIRE journey

By Bob Lai, Tawcan
Special to the Financial Independence Hub
Although I grew up in a household where my dad retired in his early 40s and a couple of my cousins reached financial independence and/or retired early in their 40s, I had never really put much thought or energy on financial independence retire early (FIRE) in my 20s. While I was living frugally, I wasn’t investing my money efficiently and I lacked a core investment strategy.

This changed just before I turned 30. Someone gave my wife and me a book called Secrets of the Millionaire Mind and our lives were forever changed. We aspired to make changes in our financial plans and how we manage our money. We knew FIRE was a possibility and we started investing in dividend-paying stocks with the plan to live off dividends by 2025 or earlier.

Ten years into our FIRE journey, we’ve made great progress on our goal of becoming financially independent. We are appreciative of this journey and how it has transformed our lives and made us more rounded people. We also have learned many lessons that we wouldn’t have learned if we weren’t on this journey.

I’d like to share with you the ten lessons I’ve learned so far on our FIRE journey.

1. FIRE is not the finish line, it’s a journey

Many see reaching FIRE as the finish line. For them, it means an escape from the rat race. However, I believe we can’t see FIRE as an escape route, the happy ending, a finish line, or the solution to everything. Reaching FIRE certainly doesn’t mean you will magically become happy and live happily ever after.

If you don’t work on yourself during the FIRE journey and improve yourself, you will continue to face the same challenges over and over.

Look at FIRE like a journey. It is very important to enjoy the journey and work on yourself while on this multi-year journey. So take the time to learn new skills, take self-improvement courses, gain new hobbies, make new friends, provide a helping hand in your community, etc.

2. Have a core investment strategy

In my 20s, although I was investing in the stock market, I was trading in and out of stocks frequently. I also invested heavily in high-MER mutual funds and low-interest-rate GICs. In other words, I didn’t have a core investment strategy and my money wasn’t working very hard for me.

Since starting our FIRE journey, I learned to get in line and stay in line. I learned the importance of having a core investment strategy.

For us, it means investing in both dividend-paying stocks and index ETFs. This hybrid investment strategy allows us to have a predictable dividend income every month while staying geographically and asset diversified. By getting rid of high-fee mutual funds and so-called “high interest” GICs, on top of investing in the stock market for the long term, our money is working much harder for us.

Having a core investment strategy also means that we stay focused. We aren’t constantly switching back and forth between different investing strategies and losing momentum. If we want to test out a different investment strategy, we can still do that, but we use a small percentage of our portfolio.

For example, less than 5% of our overall portfolio is invested in growth and more speculative stocks.

3. Ignore doubts and noises around you

The FIRE movement has gained popularity in recent years but it is still a niche movement. The niche nature of the movement means that many of your friends and family do not know about it and will cast doubts when they learn what you’re working on. Unintentionally, they may also try to sabotage your plans.

It is important to ignore doubts and noises around you. Believe in yourself, connect with like-minded people, find support from the FIRE community, and stay focused while on this FIRE journey.

4. Understand your whys

Many people start their FIRE journey because they hate their jobs and because they are not happy with their lives. But FIRE isn’t the magic pill, it will not make you happy all of a sudden.

It is important to dig deep, cut through the BS, and really understand why you want to become financially independent and one day retire early.

Perhaps it’s because you want to have more time to spend with your kids. Perhaps it’s because you want to have the ability to go skiing on a Tuesday morning. Perhaps it’s because you want to be able to volunteer at the local soup kitchen without having to worry about money.

Find your reasons.

5. Stop comparing

Becoming financially independent in less than five years doesn’t make you more successful and taking 20 plus years to reach financial independence doesn’t make you a failure either.

Because we are all different individuals, our FIRE journey will never be alike. Therefore, we need to stop comparing our journeys with each other. Instead, support each other and help each other along the way.

And remember, financial independence retire early does not define success in life.  Continue Reading…