Retired Money: Time for a Newsletter Purge?


My latest MoneySense Retired Money column suggests that for retirees and semi-retirees like myself, it may be time for a newsletter purge. You can find the full column by clicking on the highlighted text here: Check your inbox: Investing newsletters can cost you more than a sub fee.

The column is a frank confession of some rather painful investment losses sustained the last three years, mostly from recent IPOs or SPACs.

When I asked myself where some of these investment “ideas” came from I realized that almost all of them came from investment newsletters published by various American stock pundits, self-proclaimed or otherwise, including two I mention below.

The worst of these is supposed EV play Lordstown [RIDE], down in my account an astounding 100%, following its recent bankruptcy. And no, I did not renew the newsletter responsible, which I have been persuaded I should not divulge here.

Credit another Letter for tipping me to such losers as Matterport (MTTR/Naqsdaq: down 83% after its recommendation), Zoom (ZM), down 80% and Coinbase (COIN), down a whopping 78%. I won’t name his newsletter as it doesn’t matter: the culprit responsible left some time in 2022, his patience exhausted long before the “Hold with strong hands” patience he recommended for his hapless readers.

When I further asked myself how it came about that I subscribed to these newsletters in the first place, I realized that well more than half were the result of email pitches and — typically — a US$49 per year offer. You know the drill: get 3 or 4 “special reports” that divulge the ticker symbols of these moonshots that are as apt to crash your portfolio as they are the hoped-for 10-baggers.

From a risk management perspective, I tend to invest far less in such speculations (for that’s what they are), compared to blue-chip individual stocks, broadly based ETFs or GICs, but those $1,000 or $1,500 per spec losses do add up.  The MoneySense column goes into some detail on the hazards of holding such losers in registered accounts, versus tax-loss selling in taxable ones.  [The tax tail often waves the investment dog in both directions.}

Stop biting on initial pitches, then stop renewing

So job one is to stop clicking on those email pitches. Second, do not renew them when they come up for it, typically after a year. Beware automatic renewals: you may have to contact the publishers directly to cancel.

A few exceptions

I don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater and it’s only fair to say there may be the odd exception, particularly here in conservative Canada. I have long been on the record for reading and sometimes acting on the recommendations of Patrick McKeough of The Successful Investor and his stable of newsletters like Wall Street Forecaster and Canadian Wealth Advisor. Most of Patrick’s stock picks are well-known blue chips. When he does go further afield with foreigner domestic juniors he identifies them as being riskier and suitable mostly for “aggressive” investors. Fair enough! Incidentally, Patrick kindly allows us to run an article here on the Hub roughly on a monthly basis: you can do worse than act on recommendations like this recent instalment: Use these successful investment strategies for your portfolio success.

I also respect the work of fellow Canadian Gordon Pape, who is a regular writer for the Globe & Mail. For the most part I find the Motley Fool to be decent, although I tend to focus on their free audio podcasts rather than their paid-for newsletters. At one point, in fact, I wrote for them.

Minimize media market noise

The MoneySense column also mentions some related topics, like monitoring cable TV all-news channels that also run stock quotes. We’ve looked before on the Hub about steps to take to avoid investment noise and the Fear of Missing Out (aka FOMO: currently, it’s all about AI). CFA and investment advisor Steve Lowrie, also a Hub contributor, and one who I initially met through the aforementioned Pat McKeough, captured this nicely in this blog: SPACs, NFTs and another Tech-inspired Silly Season.

Social Media

Finally there’s social media. While I’m not a big fan of Elon Musk’s current iteration of Twitter (“X”)  I’m still there because my web site runs an ongoing Twitter feed, which you can see by casting your eyes just to the right [if you’re reading this on] And yes, I did ante up for the now-disgraced blue tick but that wasn’t because I wanted the validation. I have had the blue tick as a journalist for several years: the main reason I paid was the built-in two-factor authentication. My Twitter handle is @JonChevreau.

However, I pay absolutely no attention to the “For you” and “Following” feeds which Musk attempts to ram down his users’ throats. Instead, I use my own customized Twitter list of roughly 700 sources. It’s called Findependence Day [also the title of my financial novel] and is available to anyone who wishes to follow Twitter lists: currently some 5,500 follow that list. The other main way I communicate at Twitter is via the @ button, where groups of financial bloggers tend to copy each other on their observations. Many Hub readers will recognize these from republished blogs here: such as Dale Roberts (@67Dodge), Mark Seed (@myownadvisor), Bob Lai (@tawcan) and Michael J. Wiener (@mjonmoney).

As I confessed in a blog on the Hub last autumn, I now am primarily on Mastodon and more recently Threads [both under the same handle @JonChevreau], as are some of the aforementioned: most of us are “dual or triple citizens.” For browsing and keeping up with financial and political developments, and anything else, I find Mastodon now consumes much more of my energy than Twitter. And that’s a relief.

So too are the slowly-falling number of newsletters arriving in my electronic inbox!

My interview on Findependence on Canada’s Podcast

On a different topic, Canada’s Podcast (which bills itself as Canada’s #1 podcast for entrepreneurs), has just aired a 25-minute video interview between myself and Canada’s Podcast founder Philip Bliss. You can watch the YouTube video by clicking here.  []

Taped in my back yard, it’s a fairly casual summer interview, and we cover the gamut of entrepreneurship and Financial Independence: from my financial novel Findependence Day to the launch of a decade ago, and finally to Victory Lap Retirement, the book I co-authored with Mike Drak. As I explain, the Victory Lap starts on Findependence Day, the day you formally achieve Financial Independence.



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