Welcome to this blog

There are a lot of reasons to write a blog, just as with choosing to read one. If you’re reading this, thank you for your time and energy.

I want to share with people everyday moments that I capture to remind us that there is beauty around us every day.

I want to share knowledge of topics that I’ve studied, and try to share it in a way that communicates the important facts in a simple way. Knowledge is empowering.

I want to share new products and experiences. I try to remind myself and everyone to try new things.

And lastly, I want to share media I enjoy, so that other people can try it.

To whoever reads it, Thank you again for your time and energy.

What is an ETF?

If you are new to investing, you will find yourself swimming in acronyms. An important one is ‘ETF’, because they are a popular investment product.

ETF stands for ‘Exchange-Traded Fund’. The important word here is ‘fund’.

A fund is a group of investments combined into a single product. Common investments are company shares (stocks) and debt (bonds).

Diversification is central to investing. The goal is to reduce risk, so that if a single investment performs badly, that you have limited your loss. This means owning many different investments, such as shares of many companies. It is time-consuming and expensive to do this yourself. A fund allows you to make a single purchase, and achieve diversification. The popularity of ETFs is for this reason.

A comparison is that an ETF is similar to a meal-kit. A meal-kit is a single purchase with everything you need collected and ready for you. On the other hand, going to a grocery store involves the effort of selecting the correct amount of many different items to make a meal. While a meal-kit is more expensive than buying your own groceries, an ETF is much cheaper than buying investments one-by-one. Again, this contributes to their popularity.

‘Exchange-traded’ is how you buy and sell the product. ETFs are bought and sold on a stock-exchange, the same as purchasing any other stock. To buy and sell ETFs, you only need a brokerage account. This contributes to their popularity too, as the buying of ‘Mutual Funds’ is typically not as simple.

Now that you know what an ETF is, you should know there are thousands of ETFs available for purchase. Conveniently, you can build an investment portfolio buying one ‘single-ticket’ ETF.

ETFs can represent the following:

  1. Single-Ticket ETFs which represent an entire diversified portfolio in one product.
  2. Thematic ETFs which have investments with a central theme, such as green energy or artificial intelligence.
  3. Sector ETFs which have investments in a certain industry, such as banking or pharmaceuticals.
  4. Country/Geographic ETFs which have investments from a certain geographic area.
  5. Goal-based ETFs which have investments to meet a specific goal, such as monthly income.

This list is not complete, just know there is a huge variety available to investors.

The last thing to know are the costs to the investor:

  1. If you are buying and selling ETFs yourself, it can cost you a trading commission. You will pay this once when you buy or sell the product. The cost depends on your broker.
  2. ETFs have a fee which is a percentage of the ETF value. It is called the MER (Management Expense Ratio). This fee pays for maintenance of the fund, and profit for fund company (consider that the meal-kit company has costs to gather food and prepare your meal-kit, the fund company has costs to gather investments and prepare your ETF). This fee is not on your statement, because the price of the ETF itself includes this fee. When researching an ETF, the MER is always available to you so you can compare to other ETFs. Ultimately the MER reduces the growth of your investment, as it is money being paid to the fund company, so it is important to consider it in your investment decisions.

As you swim in investing acronyms, I hope this has been helpful for you to make informed decisions about your money.

Questions you might have:

A dear friend was kind enough to ask me some questions. Here are your answers:

Q: If ETFs are a convenience product like meal-kits, why are they cheaper than do it yourself? Unlike a meal-kit which is more expensive than do it yourself meal prep.

A: The analogy conveys that it is a ‘package’, but cannot be considered for the production costs. The costs of producing a meal-kit cannot be compared to the costs of managing an ETF. An MER for an ETF is typically a fraction of a percent, whereas the trading commissions and research to build your own portfolio out-weigh the MER by a magnitude.

Q: What is a brokerage account?

A: A brokerage account is an account you open at an investment broker, that allows you to buy and sell investment products such as ETFs. Examples in Canada would be Questrade and Virtual Brokers.

Q: So the higher the MER, the lower the rate of growth? So smaller MERs are better?

A: A higher MER does not mean a lower rate of growth, it only means that a greater percentage of your money will be paid to the fund company. Ideally a smaller MER is preferable to a larger MER, especially if the ETFs contain basically the same investments. Many ETF companies offer more or less the same ETF (e.g. a collection of Canadian banks) with a different MER.

It’s important to consider MER as only part of your decision, and not base your decision solely on MER.

20211024 – Wandering Downtown Kitchener and Civic Centre

If you don’t know anything about Kitchener, you’re about to learn a thing or two.

The ‘sunset’ mode kicked-in on my phone and made it ‘pop’

Get your flu shot! (Rexall link/SDM Link) I took this leaving the Rexall on Frederick earlier this week. I normally always go to Shoppers Drug Mart, but I like this Rexall because it’s always so quiet and chill. Also they’ve got M&M food.

It was quiet

Frederick is an interesting street, this is just next to Weber Park. You’ve got a big park, old shopping mall and houses all competing to define the character of area. For me, the charm of the houses wins-out, but you can always feel the commercial part of it.

The leaves are changing
This house just stood out to me on Mansion Street. I feel like it’s going to open like a mouth and start talking to me.
It was a bright and sunny day

Ontario Street is a gem in Downtown Kitchener, and all on one street you get the amenities you’d be used to in Toronto. There’s Legacy Greens which is a green grocer with treats, meats, gifts, and food to go. There’s the Adventurer’s Guild for playing games with friends with food and drink. There’s also an indie coffee shop called Show&Tell. You don’t see it here, but further up the street there is an indie cinema called The Apollo. Lastly, it’s not Kitchener without an European restaurant, and for this we have Two Goblets and their awesome Schnitzel sandwiches to-go.

Easy Cook Korean Rice Cakes

You can have fun in your own city visiting ethnic grocery stores and trying new foods. I bought some easy cook rice cakes in a spicy sauce at the Galleria Express on Bloor Street.

Definitely attractive packaging, the orange leaps out at you.

In small print below the Korean script (Hangeul), the product name ‘Bunmoja Tteok-Bokki’ is in English. Tteok-Bokki are Rice Cakes in Korean.

The instructions are only in Korean, but if you cannot figure it out, you may want to stick to EasyMac

I followed the instructions and cooked it in the 1000 watt microwave for 5 minutes and 30 seconds.

Not the best looking meal out of my microwave

You do eat with your eyes first, I can’t say it looked particularly appetizing, but I’m not a big fan of rice cakes. Overall it was OK, but the fun part was picking it up in the store and trying something new! Try it with anything the next time you’re in the grocery.

Cumbrae’s Beef Stroganoff for Dinner

I wanted something super easy to make and tasty. Cumbrae’s usually deliver on both with their packaged meals (spoiler: not so much this time).

Today the choice was Beef Stroganoff. It’s starting to get cooler, and what could be more comforting than beef, noodles and sour cream?

What you pickup in the store

Unfortunately, it’s expensive as heck and only just fills up two people. You can really only justify the price if you compare it to ordering out on UberEats, but you can’t justify it compared to actually cooking a meal.

After squeezing it out

It’s also not terribly appetizing to look at once you’ve squeezed it out of its plastic home.

Mix it up and it isn’t looking so bad.

There’s no instructions besides to warm it up gently. I left it on the lowest heat for about 20 minutes while watching a youtube video.

Served it up in a bowl

There was enough to fill up two bowls with Beef Stroganoff, and it was eaten up quickly with room for an ice cream bar afterwards.

There’s been meals I’ve enjoyed much more from Cumbrae’s, and while this one didn’t taste bad, it didn’t knock my socks off either. The beef was tender, but the flavour didn’t do it for me. Consider trying it yourself next time you want a quick meal and want an alternative to delivery food.

20211017 Grocery Run in Queen West

I needed something for dinner, something for dessert, and I can always use a walk.

Looking east down Queen to Bathurst
The seldom spotted Red Tesla Model 3, where Tecumseth meets Palmerston on Queen St.
A classic white Range Rover parked on the street
Tecumseth and Palmerston at Queen, without a red Tesla Model 3
The Salvation Army shelter at Queen and Tecumseth
These houses won’t be around too much longer, reminds me of a song
Queen and Bathurst, a convenience store dedicated to one of the not so good Drag Race songs
The condo behind here, is certainly a sign of things to come for these houses. Eventually we’ll be walking past yet another glass and brick podium like on any other major street in Toronto.
Looking north to Queen on Shadowy Bathurst
Sunshine beaming over the garden at St. Mary’s church at Adelaide and Bathurst
It isn’t Stanley Park, I don’t know which park it is, but it’s got a neat structure in it.
A tram passing by on King St with an INS really popping out next to the wine rack
Meant to be a photo of a VIA Rail ad, but you can’t always get what you want
Nice to see some Halloween decorations on a street between King and Queen
The wall looks a bit out of place, but it’s historical. It was built by the people kept at the hospital which is now CAMH
Looking east down Queen St, the shadow gives me a feeling I had Totoro standing next to me.
You can walk down a major street in Toronto, and then down the side there’ll be trees and houses
Neat branding with the logo, typeface and juxtaposition. There are a lot of ways to market this product to a lot of audiences, it’s rare for me to see it done so, ‘elegantly’
I will never ever remember to go and buy them, but I’m sure they’d be the best Perogies I could buy.
St. Mary’s Church at Adelaide and Bathurst
This place would be so spooky on Halloween. It’s a public washroom in Stanley Park. Never seen another washroom in a park quite like this one.
A TTC bus zooming past me
A TTC bus that has passed by me
Stanley and King
An important message in the window
Looking east down King St by Stanley Park
The perfect place to sit in Toronto. Cute bench, ATM, greenery, and a Pumpkin watching over you.
Late Afternoon Stanley Park
Washroom at Stanley Park
Looking west on King St at Tecumseth

Pork Chops for Dinner

A super simple dinner tonight, but a great way to put the cast iron grill pan to use.

  1. Tanjo Farms Centre Cut Pork Chops from Sanagan’s Meat Locker
  2. Cumbrae’s Smashed Potatoes (Potatoes, Turnip, Rutabaga, Prosciutto, & Chives). It was super convenient to order these on UberEats!
  3. Green Giant Green Peas, an old school classic!

Very satisfying to see those grill marks and tasty juices for the centre of the plate! Guten Appetit!

20211016 Rainy Fall Day in Toronto

East at Ryerson and Queen
West at Ryerson and Queen
Rainy Pavement by the Theatre
Orange Everywhere
Orange and No Right Turns
Wet backstreets
Construction Time Again on Dundas
Cloudy Skyline
Rainy Kensington
Rainy Kensington
Rainy Kensington
Rainy Kensington
Hot Box Café
Tree lit up by a beam of sudden sunshine on Bloor street on a cloudy day