After achieving ROSC (return of spontaneous circulation) following the 2022 resuscitation of The Loonie Doctor, this was my first full year back at blogging. It turned out to be blogging plus videos, live talks, and podcasts. I made clear progress in all domains of my revitalized mission to empower, inspire, connect, and collaborate.
In this post, I’ll put some numbers to it. Highlight the most popular posts & what I think we the most posts series that I did. Plus, I’ll outline my plans for 2024.
The Blog Numbers
The blog is alive and growing. This year saw the most traffic ever – about 260K views for 100K individual IP addresses. That is good for a Canadian finance blog, and amazing for a niche one like The Loonie Doctor. Engagement is high with an average of 2.6 pages per visit and the average time on site spanning ~5 minutes per visit (an eternity in Internet time).
Most of the traffic is organic, coming via Google searches. A good chunk also comes from Facebook. Primarily from the private Physician Financial Independence (Canada) Group, but also from a new Index Fund & ETF Investing for Canadians Facebook Group that I have been frequenting.
Blog Financial Position
For the aspiring bloggers out there, running a niche blog is not a big money maker. You have to be doing it for non-financial reasons. However, I am pleased to say that after six years, The Loonie Doctor brought in more money than it cost me. I bought some podcasting equipment with the dough.
My DIY Investor Hub has proven popular and helpful for those seeking education, a step-by-step guide, and mentorship for making the move to DIY ETF investing. The screenshots and details use Qtrade Direct Investing, but should generalize well to other platforms. If you use my affiliate link by clicking any of the Qtrade banners on the site, then I can better coach you if you get stuck. You also get Qtrade’s best promotional offers, and I get a small fee at no cost to you.
Late this year, I carefully chose a couple of sponsors who add value to my mission. The first article from BMO ETFs on ETF liquidity was really good and not something I could have pulled off on my own. More to come. The advisors and educators at PWL Capital have produced high-quality material aimed at Canadian investors for years. I’ll talk more about our major collaboration building The Money Scope in the next section.
The Money Scope Podcast
Ben Felix (Head of Research at PWL Capital and Common Sense Investing YouTube Channel) and I have been hard at work building a multi-media financial curriculum resource. The Money Scope brings together my perspective as a nerdy end-user and Ben’s as a well-researched financial industry expert.
Ben and I found ourselves working in parallel on projects to answer questions about corporate tax planning dilemmas. We also discovered that we were both developing an organized personal finance curriculum aimed at Canadian professionals and business owners. So, it seemed natural that we should just pool our resources. The result is great.
We started the prep work in the spring and released the first episodes just this past month. By the end, we’ll have covered the components for making your own financial plan and/or getting the most out of your financial advisors. A comprehensive review of the best evidence and practices distilled into actionable information. You can read, listen, or watch more about The Money Scope here.
The Big Release & Reception
The material covered is very comprehensive. From the basics right into nuances many advisors don’t know about. We push the scope in to the hilt. We hope that people can come back to it repeatedly. You will likely get something different each time as your knowledge and experience builds. No one will get everything from the first listen or read-through. Our multimedia episode pages (audio, video, indexed transcripts, footnotes, related resources) are located on moneyscope.ca and I will also post a direct link to them from The Loonie Doctor site each week as well.
By the time this post goes live, we’ll have released the first four episodes. Since money and investing are just tools to help us live “The Good Life”, we started with an evidence-based approach to how we can work towards that. A mix of biology and social science to make a usable framework for plotting your financial plan, setting goals, and making day-to-day financial decisions.
Even with that less mainstream financial podcast launch, we jumped to #1 for investing, #1 for business, and #17 for all Apple podcasts in Canada within two days. At the time of writing this, we’ve held onto #1 for investing even though various murder mysteries etc bumped us out of the overall rankings.
Encourage a Screening With The Money Scope
That reception exceeded our expectations and thank you to everyone who has put us there. Wait until we get to the investing and tax planning episodes! They are amazing and there is nothing else out there like them.
Please help by sharing the podcast with friends, family, and colleagues (the ones you like). Our goal is to appeal to and reach as many Canadians (and their advisors) as possible. If you like the podcast, please leave a positive review. It helps others discover us on their media feeds.
Most Popular Posts of 2023
#1 Strategies To Withdraw Big Money From Your Corporation
The most common question I got in 2023 was “How do I get money out of my corp to pay down my mortgage?” So, it is no surprise that my most popular post was about strategies to get money out of a corp. Strategies like shareholder loans, capital gains harvests, surplus stripping, return of capital, and using your corporate notional accounts. All ways to get money out of a corporation into personal hands tax efficiently. Whether to pay for debt or something more fun.
#2 Investing Through A Professional Corporation
I originally wrote this overview of tax-efficient corporate investing in 2018, but did a major overhaul last year. It has been in the top 3 pretty much every year. A professional corporation can be a great investment vehicle. However, it has drawbacks too. If you understand how it works, you can better integrate a corporation into your overall portfolio. Plus, a corporation uses tax deferral and you must also consider what the end-game is.
While not a “post”, a popular related page has been my step-by-step instruction page (with screenshots) for how to open a corporate investing account using Qtrade. At most discount brokerages, the process can be intimidating, and frankly very annoying. It is still a paper process everywhere, but I worked with the folks at Qtrade to streamline it. They provide great customer support (#1 again). Plus, my contacts there and I can help get people unstuck pretty easily if required. Besides the bonus of making it easier for me to mentor people, the more who have Loonie Doctor affiliated Qtrade accounts, the more leverage I will have to work on other ideas to serve the needs of the incorporated professional population. I have a few in mind.
#3 Optimizing Your RESP Contributions
This was another complete overhaul of an older post. People get bogged down in minor differences between RESP contribution strategies that are also subject to a bunch of assumptions about the future. I do model them in other posts. However, this post gives a good solid approach to the big decisions that are most likely to impact how much money is in your RESP when you need it.
In a related page for those looking to put more money away for their kids or teach them about investing, I made a page about opening informal trusts. Along with links to the appropriate forms and instructions for doing that using Qtrade.
Major Topic Post Series
These posts weren’t my most viewed, but together covered important topics.
Series on Paying Yourself Optimally From a Corporation
Withdrawing big chunks of cash got the most clicks, but I did a whole series on how to get money out of your corporation to spend. Starting with income smoothing, but also the notional accounts involved in a corporation and how to use a mix of dividends and salary to keep it flowing efficiently.
Dr. Steph and I made a video to hit some of the highlights of how to pay salary vs dividends. I also extensively updated my CCPC income dispenser tax calculator to algorithmically give an efficient salary and dividend mix targeted to personal spending. And a video with Dr. Steph to demonstrate how it works.
Income Splitting To Reduce Household Taxes
This year, I overhauled my summary of income-splitting strategies available to all Canadians. For the incorporated crowd, I made a post about income-splitting using a corporation. Dr. Steph and I also made a video version.
Corporate Class ETF Series
I frequently get asked about Horizons’ family of corporate class swap ETFs. They seem like an elegant and sophisticated solution to delay and reduce highly taxed income. Either in a corporate investing account or personal account subject to a high tax bracket.
They may offer significant tax savings. However, there are also some embedded tax risks lurking beneath the surface to be aware of. I also analyzed the potential impact of hitting a corp class tax berg. Unlikely, in my opinion – I think Horizon would just proactively switch to a conventional structure first. However, it is possible.
While there is a risk if Horizons’ loss pool continues to shrink, there are potential benefits when used in a corporation. However, the potential benefit is highly variable. In fact, for Canadian equities, the benefit often favors conventional ETFs unless you have a really large corporate investment account. In contrast, avoiding the nasty treatment of foreign withholding taxes makes corporate class ETFs pretty attractive for non-North American developed and emerging markets. The S&P 500 and bond ETFs are in between.
Multiple Media & Perspectives
When I started blogging about personal finance for Canadian professionals, I was pretty much a lone voice in the northern wilderness. However, there definitely seems to be an appetite for this information and we now have a little ecosystem of collaborators working on it. I won’t repeat my post on the new collaborations and connections, but it has been great to start making some video content with Breaking Bad Debt with Dr. Steph and a couple of podcast episodes with Dr. Yatin Chadha of Beyond MD Podcast. It is great to see content expanding, not only in terms of the medium but also the different perspectives. We have even had a successful PFI online conference for the third year running. Here are a few highlights of my appearances.
Plans for 2024
Looking back on my plans for 2023, I didn’t do too badly. I haven’t completed my Core Financial Curriculum yet, but I made progress. Hopefully, I can leverage the research and work that I have been pouring into The Money Scope to flesh it out further. I made good progress on updating some of my calculators, like the CCPC income dispenser. While I haven’t published them yet, I have been making major revisions to a bunch of my other calculators to make them more user-friendly and optimize them further.
For 2024, I plan to do some more live appearances. My first one will be at ETF Investor Day where we will be opening the TSX and having some ETF investing seminars and debates. There are still a few spots left, the last I heard. Still, most of my time will likely be spent writing blog content, poking The Money Scope into different topics, and revamping my calculators. I have learned to just plug away while being flexible in terms of deadlines and goals. Last year came with numerous unexpected opportunities and I want to be open to whatever 2024 brings.