I love my reading list this month, I really do. I know I say that almost every month, but guys: there’s some real gold in here for everyone, whether you’re spending the month of August toiling away at work like you do every month, relaxing in a canoe or on a beach somewhere, or panicking because if we round up, summer’s practically over and we might as well pull out our winter coats already (just me?)

Some of the gold is meaning of life stuff (like this piece on taking a break, or this piece from my friend James Osborne on the social pressure to look successful). Some of it is pretty deep retirement theory (like this mathematically dense and so fascinating look at whether randomized portfolio projections overstate the risk that retirees will have to adjust their portfolio withdrawals), and still more gold waiting to be discovered in tools for people who do things for themselves (like this comprehensive discount brokerage comparison tool and this post from my good friend John on estimating whether you’re on track for retirement or not.)

As always, the entire list is down there after the top three, so let’s dig in:

Money Lessons from my Oma’s Tomatoes

From Chris Enns

First, let me just get this out there: I might have cried a little over the memory of my grandparents’ garden when I read this. NO, YOU’RE CRYING.

I struggle with the idea of telling clients to spend less, although I do it because sometimes it’s the right prescription. The language around it is hard stuff, though, which is where Chris’ post comes in. It’s not on this list because of nostalgia, powerful though it may be; it’s here because of the elegantly simple turn of phrase in the very last section that is about to go into heavy rotation in client meetings where this conversation is on the table. I’m not even going to spoil it for you, you just have to read the story from start to finish.

Read the full article here.


Why Judging the Poor Isn’t Actually Helping Anybody

From Ashley C. Ford

Ashley Ford is one of my favourite writers, and her Instagram is so funny and real and tender that you’ll be a better person for seeing it.

This post from Ashley isn’t only about fEeLiNgs (although I’d be A-OK if it was “just” that), it’s about catching a glimpse of what life looks like for people who aren’t like us, so that when we look at what’s broken in the world and what our role is in patching it up, our perspective is wider than just the experiences we’ve personally confronted.

Read the full article here.


What’s New With My Model ETF Portfolios (and Why?)

From Justin Bender

Tax efficient asset allocation and selection across accounts is HARD, folks. It’s one of the decisions that people who pay for investment management are (supposed to be) getting for their higher fees (whether they’re getting it consistently or accurately is another conversation for another time).

If you’re keen on doing it yourself, you probably already know who Justin Bender at Canadian Portfolio Manager is. If by some weird twist of fate you’re trying to allocate your own DIY index portfolio and don’t know Justin…get thee to CPM.

His latest update is poorly titled, frankly. It should be called “How to not tear out your hair if you’re managing your own portfolio and you have significant non-registered investments.” Yeah, that’s definitely a better title. I spy a new side-gig for yours truly.

Read the full article here.

You can read this month’s entire list below, and browse through past lists here.

Take a Break: The Importance of Rest and Relaxation | Kitty

“New tasks have rushed in to fill our empty hours—and very few of them are leisure”


Shame, Status and the American Dream | James Osborne

“How many Americans would think ‘Wow, good for them. They have figured out what makes them happy and are spending/saving money in that way.’ Can’t say I think it would be many.”


Can currency-hedged ETFs protect you? | Dan Bortolotti

“It pays to settle on a long-term strategy and stick to it even if it occasionally suffers over shorter periods.”


Fat Tails In Monte Carlo Analysis vs Safe Withdrawal Rates | Michael Kitces 

A dense but very worthwhile read for anyone interested in retirement income research, the 4% rule, sequence of return risk, Monte Carlo simulations, and safe withdrawal rates (so, maybe four of us)


Baby Boomers Will Live Long But Might Not Prosper | Ben Carlson

“People exhibit a decline in cognitive abilities over time that leads to a decrease in investment performance and financial literacy skills as they age. Older investors also prefer more certainty, meaning lower equity exposure, which could be a problem with increased time horizons and the need to keep up with inflation over the long haul. It’s also difficult for older people to see their own decline in financial skills and abilities.”


Arguments Against Index Investing | Michael James

“The passive versus active debate isn’t going away any time soon. There are too many people who make their livings from expensive mutual funds to expect them to just give up.”


Canada’s Best Online Brokerages 2017 | Money Sense

Compare online brokerages side-by-side.


A Framework for Estimating “Am I On Track?” | John Robertson

“we just want to get a ballpark idea of whether we’re on track or not, and we want to do it ourselves with a whiteboard and spreadsheet”


Should I use the institution’s internal “ombudsman“? | Ken Kivenko

“The firm may “encourage” you to use their internal “ombudsman”. The banks and insurers have created these entities to give the institution a second chance. We view the diversion from regulator-approved OBSI as an unnecessary step”

This list of questions at the end is pointed–fierce, even. And the answers (or, more likely, no -answers, will tell you all you need to know about whether you should skip the “ombudsman” and take your complaint directly to the Ombudsman.


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