A new year brings new opportunities to grow and improve for all of us.
In The Money Master, author and speaker Sandy Yong shares her personal experiences with money, interviews a few financial experts, and provides some actionable tools to show you how you can:
- Develop a millionaire mindset
- Develop healthy and wealth-building habits that stick
- Balance today’s needs with tomorrow’s wants or dreams
- How to take more direct control of your financial future
- Create a financial portfolio to get your money working for you
- And more!
We recently got some time to chat with The Money Master herself and asked Sandy a host of questions that dive deeper into the subjects of cash flow management, portfolio drawdown considerations and what keeps Sandy up at night when it comes to her investments with her partner.
At the end of this post, we’re happy to give away two (2) copies of Sandy’s book The Money Master to some lucky readers!
Sandy, welcome to our site and thanks for the time!
Mark and Joe, a pleasure to be here.
Sandy, tell us about yourself. What has made you passionate about managing your money? What was your trigger to start saving and investing?
Growing up I lived in a household where my father was the sole provider for our family. We lived a modest lifestyle and had the basic necessities. We didn’t go on any family vacations and didn’t have a car. My mother lived with mental illness and was a homemaker. I saw her unable to hold a job and relied on my father financially. It was tough to see her being dependent on someone else and relying on government assistance. I’ve seen how money can affect people in both positive and negative ways. My mother wanted me to become financially independent so that I could make my own decisions and not be controlled by someone else. This was a big factor in why I have worked so hard to educate myself on personal finance and investing in the stock market and real estate. Now that I am a mother myself, I want to pass on my knowledge to my young son so that he can grow up to be educated and empowered to grow his own wealth. I also want to teach him to give back to others and help pass on a legacy.
We have spent the better part of our investing lives focused on cash flow management and increasing the cash flow from our investments. That’s not right or wrong, just how we both motivated ourselves to get to where we are. What are your thoughts on that? What should be the priority for investors: increasing assets or increasing the cash flow from your assets?
Our post: Why cash flow is king!
Mark and Joe, I feel like one is the predecessor to the other. You need to have assets in order to have the opportunity to increase your cash flow from your assets. For example, with rental properties, you can only increase the rent on your tenant by what your provincial government dictates each year. In 2022, the permitted rental increase is 1.2%. It’s difficult to decrease expenses as your mortgage payments and maintenance fees are usually set for you. So you’ll want to add more rental properties in order to collect more rental income.
If we look at stock market investing, the same principle applies. If you only have $100,000 in assets, then you can only earn so much in dividends and interest in any given year. Whereas if you have $1,000,000 in your portfolio, you could accelerate your gains and dividends that much faster. So you would probably be motivated to make contributions to your stock market portfolio so that you have the chance to earn more dividends and have compounding interest work for you.
We designed this site to help showcase how various Canadians can and will retire: there are various retirement drawdown considerations to navigate and we provide some options via free case studies on our site along with our services. In some cases, many Canadians may not retire at all. Instead, they will continue to work as they slowly draw down their portfolios.
What is your plan Sandy with Albert? Do you have a portfolio drawdown order in mind?
Currently, we are following the 4% rule to determine how much we will need when we retire. This means we are working towards saving 25 years worth of our annual expenses. However, it’s not a perfect science and since we have rental properties in the mix, it makes it a bit more complicated. Nevertheless, we have a net worth tracking excel sheet that we update on a quarterly basis. Looking at our assets and liabilities gives us a good idea of whether we are on track to becoming financially independent. We will probably include a cash cushion that will last a year or two in case the market goes down during the time we decide to retire. That way we are not forced to sell our funds at a loss. Later on down the road when our properties become mortgage-free, we can use the monthly rental income instead of having to sell off our stock market funds. When we reach our 60s, we can tap into CPP (Canadian Pension Plan), OAS (Old Age Security) and our pensions. As you can see, there are many moving parts, so we have a general guideline but will have to adjust accordingly as our financial situation changes and how the markets are doing in any given year.
Furthermore, if we decide to become snowbirds, we’ll have to look into where we would like to live (as some countries are more affordable than others) and the tax implications that may come with it. I’m not a big fan of our winter weather and hibernating during these frigid months in Canada. I’d rather go somewhere warm where I can enjoy more outdoor activities.
We hear ya. We love to travel as well.
Sandy, almost everyone can live with the market upside. Real estate in Canada is way up in most major cities. The Canadian stock market was up about 30% in 2021. The U.S. market was up a bundle last year as well. However, we believe you must always manage and be mindful of the downside when it comes to investing and personal finance as well.
A couple of questions on this for you:
- What’s your take on managing risks in your asset accumulation years – what should Canadians consider?
Real estate prices are skyrocketing across Canada. We’re seeing unprecedented prices during unprecedented times. Although property valuations have gone up, we should remind ourselves that they can go down (such as the housing crisis of 2008). Having a long-term approach helps to mitigate these risks. We should keep an eye on what the government is doing since laws and regulations can change. For my next condo property, I’m saving for a 35% down payment instead of the standard 20% 1) in case the bank requires me to do so as an investor 2) so I can pay down the mortgage faster.
You want to ensure you take calculated risks, especially when it comes to speculative “investments” such as cryptocurrency and NFTs. There are lots of scams and frauds that are becoming more sophisticated these days. There’s been a few close calls for me as well.
- What’s your take on managing any poor sequence of returns risk in retirement? Anything else you would suggest?
Having multiple streams of income helps to give you options of how you can optimize your retirement funds. Even though you may not have a full-time job when you retire, some people still earn money with part-time work. Also, earning dividends from your stock market investments and rental income are ways to keep the cash coming in which then helps to buoy any poor sequence of returns. Seeing several stock market downturns (e.g. 2008 and 2020), I think it’s prudent to have a cash wedge that will last for one to two years just in case the economy is going for a downturn.
You have an entire chapter in The Money Master about taking control of your financial future. What tips do you have for others on this? What do you and Albert do? (Do you have your own “dream board”?)
In this chapter I wanted my readers to use their imagination to discover what their dream lifestyle would look like. It’s important to not only accumulate wealth but to enjoy it too! That’s why I’m a firm believer in having a dream board.
My husband Albert and I have our dream board sitting on our dining table so we look at it when we have a meal together. It helps to motivate us and keep us on track with our goals. We’ve had many conversations strategizing ways of how we will work towards our goals. Surprisingly, we’ve achieved a number of them and every quarter we update the dream board with new goals.
A few things that are currently on our dream that we are hoping to accomplish:
- Owning a Tesla – Model 3 in blue within five years.
- Visiting all the Disney amusement parks and going on all the Disney cruises.
- Growing our rental properties, growing our dividend income, speaking, freelance writing, and consulting business.
- Giving back to our charity partners on an annual basis.
- Saving for our son’s education.
That Tesla sounds like a fun idea!
Finally, we spend a lot of time on this site dedicated to helping Canadians understand many complex, personal finance questions and answers for them such as:
- Do I have enough to retire?
- When can I retire?
- Will I run out of money in retirement?
- How much can I spend in retirement?
- How much of a financial legacy can I leave behind?
- Should I take CPP at age 65 or 70?
- How do I minimize OAS clawback?
- and more…
What is your biggest financial worry or question?
How might you tackle that in the coming years?
Ensuring that we have good, reliable tenants that occupy our rental properties. We never want to have our rental properties stay vacant during our turnover periods. Also, maintenance fees for condos and unexpected repairs can eat into our finances. So we will probably need to beef up our emergency savings funds as a few of our properties are starting to age and we will need to do some ongoing maintenance to ensure they function properly.
We also don’t want to take on more than we can chew in terms of the mortgages we take on and our debt load. Buying property in the Greater Toronto Area is very expensive and there are monthly costs associated with being a landlord. Thus, we keep track on a quarterly basis to see how our cash flow is doing and try to save up for lump-sum payments to help pay down our mortgages.
Now that we have a baby boy, as parents we want to ensure that our wealth will not only last for our lifetime but that we can pass on generational wealth to our child so that he is set up for financial success. We will still want to teach him the fundamental skills of good money management and not take it for granted.
How to Become The Money Master Summary
Impressive stuff, thanks again Sandy.
Canadians, The Money Master (link to Sandy’s site) will be a great addition to your personal finance library. On top of that, you can help causes important to Sandy as well! As part of her book sales, related to that link above, Sandy proudly partners with CAMH (The Centre of Addiction and Mental Health) such that she donates $2 from every single book sale to assist this charity with mental health research.
Sandy will be following comments on our site and answering any reader questions over the coming weeks if/when you have questions for her. If you want to get in touch with Sandy about anything, you can find her on the social channels below:
- Website: www.sandyyong.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/themoneymasterbook/
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/MoneyMasterBook
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/themoneymasterbook
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sandyyong1/
Good luck with the giveaway and we look forward to hosting more of these over time.
- Why the 4% rule doesn’t work at all for early retirement planning.
- Can you retire early with a $1 million portfolio?
- Could you retire just using your TFSA as a retirement account?
- Could you retire with $500,000 in your RRSP?
- Check out the My Own Advisor interview with Sandy Yong here.
Enter the Draw to Win a FREE Copy!
Need any support with your retirement income projections?
Knowing how to save and invest wisely, to help you get the most out of your portfolio, is something we can help with. Sandy knows, and we’ve been there!
If you are interested in obtaining private projections for your financial scenario, read more about our retirement projections service.
A reminder to those who have recently joined our readership and new fans of the site – our site is growing thanks to you!! As an example, a big thanks to Rob Carrick for mentioning our site and services in The Globe and Mail. From Rob:
“TODAY’S FINANCIAL TOOL
Cashflow$ & Portfolios is the name of a website built to help people learn how to reach their long-term financial goals with budget and long-term investing. Brought to you by a pair of veteran personal finance bloggers.”
Yup, that’s us! We appreciate every comment and email and every client interaction.
We look forward to sharing more new content again soon!