Portfolio Update – March 2021 – $1,000 per month!

I am a little shocked, and disappointed in myself, that it has been almost eight months since my last post. The timing makes sense though: I went back to school for a part time Master’s Degree in September, so any free time I had from work and/or family was quickly consumed by schoolwork. I really am enjoying the schoolwork – learning really is fun, but due to focus on school my finances have slipped in priority. I have been so far behind that I did not even do a year-end recap of my personal situation—let alone a blog post about it. And unlike many of the other financial bloggers out there, I have not made any goals for 2021. Really, I have one goal, and that is to survive another year while balancing family life, work, and school.

But, after those eight months, I have finally sat down to see where my portfolio sits. A little over a year ago the COVID-19 pandemic hit us, and I have crunched the numbers to see where we sit one year later. Emotionally and psychologically it has been rough, financially things have been great, evidenced by the trailing twelve months return graph:

The twelve months ending December 31, 2020 (not pictured above), the benchmark return was 1.53% and my own returns were 1.54%. This includes the massive drawdown in March 2020 when COVID-19 first hit us, and the incremental gains since then. However, the better story comes out when we look at the twelve months ending March 31, 2021, which captures everything form the 2020 low market to present day. For that timeframe, the benchmark return has been 19.6%, but the aggregate return of my own investments has been a whopping 44.5%, more than double the benchmark.

However, as a dividend focused investor, the real metric I turn to is passive income, illustrated in the below graph:

Around September 2020, after my last update, I finally broke the first glass ceiling by having $12,000 in trailing twelve-month passive income. In other words, since September I have been making $1,000/month in passive income, which has been one of my personal goals for quite a while. I have also managed to exceed the benchmark passive income, which for the trailing twelve months ending March 31 has only been $10,647. However, while I have passed the $1,000/month number at aggregate, the challenge is that much of my passive income is locked up in my RRSP and LIRA:

Approximately 60% of my income is in tax deferred accounts, which means I cannot access it for at least 20 years. The goal going forward will be grow the green (tax free) and red (taxable) bars to the point where the majority of my income can be taken today, which is a major factor in achieving FIRE status – passive income is useless if you can’t live off of it to support a FIRE objective.

Not surprisingly, the growth in my portfolio has primarily in been in individual company holdings, not ETFs. To that end, the equity portion of the portfolio is still overweight relative to other areas:

I will discuss the asset type weightings in a future post.

Overall, though, even though I did not have many opportunities to monitor my portfolio the past eight months, I am very happy with the results:

Year Fund Year Return Fund CAGR Income Year Return Income CAGR
2009 23.59% 23.59% No data No data
2010 14.69% 19.06% No Data No data
2011 (1.60%) 11.73% No Data No data
2012 13.51% 12.17% No Data No data
2013 21.59% 14.00%
2014 15.41% 14.23% 27.40% 27.40%
2015 3.27% 12.60% (18.53%) 1.88%
2016 10.63% 12.35% (2.32%) 0.46%
2017 11.10% 12.21% 11.64% 3.15%
2018 (6.78%) 10.15% 21.83% 6.64%
2019 20.90% 11.08% 5.69% 6.48%
2020 6.95% 10.73% 30.91% 9.67%

2021 ended up at overall 6.95% increase from 2019, and the CAGR since 2013 remains strong at 10.73%. Most importantly, income grew by over 30% in 2020, bringing up the overall CAGR considerably to 9.67%: for every $1.00 I made in 2019 I made $1.31 in 2020, which is fantastic.

Onwards and upwards!


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