Saturday, January 31, 2015

Off the rat race (Or Am I?) (part II)

(part II)... so here I am, after almost a year and a half without working and solely living off my cash-out and my dividends, confronted with THE QUESTION : to work or not to work ?

I have to say, it wasn't even a plan not to work again. First of all, I couldn't afford it. Second of all, I wanted to work again. I just wasn't sure what I would like to do. (yes, it can happen even late into your thirties-- and beyond).

So when I was asked if I'd be interested in writing a speech for a well-known political figure, who shall remain nameless for the sake of this blog (not Obama, I am Canadian!), I answered by asking the one question important for someone on the financial independence trail : -- "how much"?

-- "Usually it's around 100$ per hour."

So I said : -- "OK!"

-- "Someone will get in touch with you soon".

I have to say, for the record, that I have previous years of experience as a speech writer. I have had written for many people, in many sphere of activities, especially in politics. I know the drill. But I didn't know how much, as a consultant, that someone would be paid. Now I did and I was pumped to get started.

This was at the beginning of fall last year. I did close to 20 contracts since then. The average cost of one contrat if for about 7-8 hours of work. So roughly 800$ per gig. Some of them were beyond 25 hours, or even 35. Each contrat was different.

It would take about 3 to 4 weeks to get paid. But I am always paid (believe me, it's not always the case for freelance). I had to learn how to bill, how to charge the taxes and so on. I will also learn pretty soon how this will all pan out on the tax front. It's actually quite interesting to learn all of this. I'm my own business now.

As a financial freak, I have made sure to put aside money for tax purposes and other things people that work for a salary forget they are even paying. Basically, almost 50% of my paycheque is swept aside. The rest pays the bills and a portion is invested in my TFSA and RRSP. I have set up an automatic purchase program and it works like a charm.  Every two weeks 100$ goes into my RBC US Index Fund. It cost nothing do so and eventually I will sell this fund and buy stock directly. . But for now, as you can see in my portfolio, it's doing just fine. I have more than 5 K$. The rest of the money is either invested in my 16 companies or just put in a saving account for later. I am hoping for a market crash, as you all should fellow investors.

So, all in all, I am quite happy with these speech contracts. I also made new clients along the way. They were told to get in touch with me by actual clients.

Sometimes, it's a little crazy and I have to work on Sundays or Saturdays. I even had to refuse work at some point. I didn't want to, but I had no choice. Better say no than giving back a sub-par product.

If I sometimes work on weekends, then I will be free on Monday or Tuesday. That's the thing : your agenda has to be flexible. You have to be disciplined. And, most of all, you have to love working for yourself and without a boss. It's a funny thing to mention, but some people need to have guidance. I don't. In fact, that's what I like most about it.

Oh.., and you have to like working alone, 90% of the time. You do have to call people sometimes, but generally you get your information from stuff that it's sent to you. Therefore, If you are the kind of person that misses your watercooler meetings in the morning, this job is not for you.

As I was starting working again, making money and enjoying it an old dream of mine caught up with me. Since I enjoy writing, I  thought I could maybe write a few pieces for, say, a newspaper...

A new side income is always welcome, no? I will let you know how this new adventure turned out.

How about you, did you ever get caught up by old dreams?

PS I recently sold some of my Cominar (REIT) shares thinking interest rates would go up and their shares would go down. The exact opposite happened! Timing the Market is a tough thing not to do. Oh well.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Two years off the Rat Race (part I)

It's been two years now since I quit my lucrative and permanent job. Two years off the Rat Race. Time flies. I guess it's long enough for one to ask himself if the move was right.

Was it? Absolutely.

I guess it all comes back to what Stebe Jobs said : "Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become"...

(For those who aren't aware of this move two years ago, I recommend you check out some of my previous posts, namely this one)

For one, I don't feel miserable like I once felt. Quitting a job you don't like is like getting a load off your back. You feel free, you feel lighter. You are up for everything that comes your way.

I began to sleep better, to eat better, to live better. No more sleeping pills. No more stress. No more moronic colleagues. Just me and time, a lot of it.

This feeling of lightness is still with me. Although I would be lying if I didn't say that some other concerns were creeping up on me after a couple of months. I guess it's normal. One has to pay the mortgage, right!

So, there's a lot of moments of lucidity when you ask yourself : "where am I going with all this"?
It's a legitimate question, isn't it?

When I decided to leave I didn't have a big plan in mind. In fact, it was more like : "let's get out of here as quick as possible".

I thought. well, I'm educated and I was doing well before, it shouldn't be a problem.
In fact it hasn't.

To be quite honest, up until march last year I didn't do much on the working front. I had just took the Canadian Securities Course to give me a comprehensive knowledge of stocks. (It did offer me a strong basis to take care of my financial stuff.) If you are Canadian and interested, I suggest you check out this site :

Anyway, up to that point (in march), I had mostly spend time traveling, fixing my old motorcycle and studying. I had my cash-out to live on and my girlfriend was working and helping. (I do have to thank her for being so supportive.)

So, when I got a call from someone I know that was working for a well-known politician I was kind of caught off-guard.

- Would you be interested in writing a speech for this particular announcement ?

(to be followed)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

New shareholder of Bank of Nova Scotia

Hey Financial Freaks,

Just a quick word to let you know I have initiated a position in Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS). The reason is simple : it's a mildly beat down blue chip. It pays a good, stable and increasing dividend of 2,64$. 

I have already a good chunk of money in the financial industries via Power Corp., Power Financial and Royal Bank. But Scotia Bank adds a little extra exposure in Latin America. It's the most international of the big 6 Canadian Banks.

Those 25 shares will add 66$ to my side income. Pop the champagne! (well, maybe not)

That's it for now. Oh..., and check out my new Net Worth which is approaching 200 K$. I will get there.

Catch you the flip side.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Financial Goals for 2015 (Final Cut)

In 2015, I intend to set myself these Financial Goals:

To respect, 75 % of the time, a monthly budget of less than 5 250 $. Last year we aimed for 4 500$ but failed badly. (partly because we hiked our spending towards investing, so not that bad).  Let's try 5 250$ and hope for the best.

To max out my TSFA and hit the 42 K$ mark. Right now, I have 30 K$ in it. (It's not a great TFSA year) I have room for 8 459 $ this year. I assume a yield of around 5-6 %. One of my main stock is (STILL) slumping (ABX). Hopefully, my other stocks will compensate. Let’s aim for 42 K$. Yes we can.

To grow my net worth to 200 K$ (and more). I expect more revenue this year. Right now, I have a Net Worth of roughly 188 K$. With a yield of 4-5 %, that should take me to close to 195 K$ solely on compounding. I should be able to add a few bucks in the mix. Not to mention the 8 K$ I put down on the capital of my mortgage every year. I will be very disappointed if I don’t hit the 200 K$ barrier (and more). Go get it boy !

To hit the 160 K $ mark in my portfolio. Right now I have around 145 K $ (you can check it out here). I still have much cash flow. I need to invest some of it in new quality stocks. But, considering the perpetual bull market (will it end?), I will be extremely patient in that regard. I should be able to hit this mark with compounding and new money.

To hike my Dividend income to 4 800 $ a year. It's a new goal! Right now, I have close to 3 K$ (2 982$). You can check it out here. I want to increase that number to 4 800$, which will represent 400$ per month. It's an increase of 37%. 

To stay out of debt. I don’t have any bad debt as we speak (apart from the mortgage, which is a good debt). That's the way we like it. 

To find another form of investment. A land, a cottage, a new condo, a house, a wood forrest. Anything that diversify our assets.

What do you think ? Should I be bolder ?