Friday, December 4, 2020

Short Takes: U.S. Estate Taxes, a Primer on Ditching Expensive Mutual Funds, and more

I thought I was going to have to replace the locks on my house doors.  At first I just had to jiggle the key a little to get it in the lock.  But then it was getting bad enough that as I fought with it, I wasn’t sure the key could go in all the way any more.  Fortunately, before I called a locksmith, I did an online search.  The locks just needed a little grease.  I can’t believe how well it worked.  The locks had seemed like they were broken, not just a little stuck. There might be better lubricants for the job [a reader suggested graphite spray as a better solution], but I just used WD-40 in the keyholes.  A few seconds later, the locks were like new.  Don’t forget to hold a tissue or rag under the lock to catch the excess; it can make a mess dripping down your door.

Here are my posts for the past two weeks:

CPP Timing: A Case Study

The Capitalist Code

Management Expense Ratio per Quarter Century (MERQ)

The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+

The Grumpy Accountant

Inconsistent Pension Envy

Here are some short takes and some weekend reading:

Elena Hanson says Biden is likely to reduce the net worth threshold where Canadians have to pay U.S. estate taxes on U.S. property.

Larry Bates gives a good primer on how to make the switch from expensive mutual funds to low-cost ETFs.

The Rational Reminder Podcast
welcomes Josh Brown and Brian Portnoy to discuss how financial professionals invest.  It turns out that while the pros may invest most of their money in rational ways, they often make some personal choices that deviate from “best practices,” such as holding a lot of cash or picking their own stocks.  The guests strike a defiant tone saying that people have a right to express themselves through their investments.  This is undeniably true.  They even admit that these deviations aren’t likely to beat the market.  However, I’ve often encountered people who cross the line from declaring they can invest any way they want (clearly true) to claiming that they are likely to outperform (very likely false).

Canadian Couch Potato
explains what’s inside iShares’ new ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) asset allocation ETFs.

John Robertson looks into the dilemma facing condo landlords: sell now, rent now and possibly lock in a low rent for years, or wait to rent hoping for higher rents soon.  Mostly, this article reminded me how happy I am that I don’t invest in real estate.  Stocks have performed excellently for me, and I haven’t had to do much work or make tough decisions since I became an index investor.

Big Cajun Man explains the new rules allowing RDSPs to be kept open even if you lose the Disability Tax Credit (DTC).

The Blunt Bean Counter gives a step-by-step guide to tax-loss selling for those who invest in taxable accounts.  He explains a rule I was never certain about: “you have to calculate your adjusted cost base on all the identical shares you own in, say, Bell Canada and average the total cost of all your Bell Canada shares over the shares in all your accounts. If the cost of your shares in Bell is higher in one of your accounts, you cannot pick and choose to realize a loss on that account; you must report the gain or loss based on the average adjusted cost base of all your Bell shares, not the higher cost base shares.”  I assume this only applies to all taxable accounts, and not any Bell shares you might hold in registered accounts.  I also assume this wouldn’t apply to Bell shares you might own indirectly through an ETF or mutual fund.  If this isn’t correct, then the accounting would be a nightmare.


  1. The RDSP is never easy to understand but still is a good savings vehicle for disabled folk. A VERY long term savings plan.

  2. There's a graphite spray that's even better for locks. Recommended for next time.