Building Rather than Spending Wealth


So remember last weeks post where I begged advised entertained you to not buy the iPhone 6? And remember how I told you that you could invest that money instead and let it compound for 50 years and end up with over $170,000? Time to separate the sharks from the sheep: who is a sheep? Common, admit it and raise your hand if you bought an iPhone 6. Ok, now, who here is a shark? Alright. Good. I’m a shark. And let me show you what I bought instead of an iPhone 6.



I warned that I was biased towards Berkshire Hathaway in my list of 4 investment options instead of an iPhone 6. Well I am. And I bought 8 shares of Berkshire Hathaway with the money I had earmarked for an iPhone 6 Plus + AppleCare + Case.

I eat my own cooking. Here is the proof:

Building Rather than Spending Wealth Transfer

I transferred out my iPhone 6 money to my TD Waterhouse account on the same day as my don’t-buy-the-iPhone-6-rant.

Then, I went ahead and bought the 8 shares from TD Waterhouse yesterday.

Building Rather than Spending Wealth BRK purchases

But rather than merely showing you the 8 shares I had bought, I figured I would satisfy all your snooping desires and finally reveal the investment portfolio.


This is by far my favourite stock. At the moment, it is the only stock I am fully convinced on buying outside of an index fund. I’ve researched the hell out of this company and Warren Buffett and I feel completely comfortable owning this for an investment time horizon of forever.

Building Rather than Spending Wealth BRK

The only thing that annoyed me about walking the talk and buying the 8 Berkshire shares was the foreign exchange fee. The first time I bought Berkshire in April 2014, it was a sample buy while I was still paying off my student loans. However, I wanted to wait until I had much more than $5,000 to execute Norbert’s Gambit and minimize foreign exchange costs on my subsequent purchases of Berkshire. I guess I see the $26.02 I paid in FX fees as the cost of my big mouth in that previous iPhone 6 rant post.

We plan to eventually fill up one of our tax-sheltered accounts with Berkshire. You’ll see much more of this stock in the future.


This is one of our ETF index fund pillars. VUN is the Canadian clone of VTI. We currently hold VUN in our RRSP.

VUN has a MER of 0.15%. VTI has a MER of 0.05%. However, VUN probably has a true MER cost of ~0.45% after taking into account that foreign withholding taxes apply to VUN.

We might eventually switch to VTI. However, we figure after paying for the FX spreads on Norbert’s Gambits and then currency volatility throughout a lifetime of buying and selling, the MER costs of VTI and VUN might be a bit of a wash. We really appreciate the relative simplicity and ease of buying VUN on the Canadian side as opposed to going through Norbert’s Gambit FX moves and buying with USD just to save a few basis points with VTI.

Building Rather than Spending Wealth VUN

Hey notice those $0.00 trading fees? Questrade is a great option for buying ETFs since you can buy them absolutely for free!


What have been the returns on these investments so far?

Berkshire Hathaway

Building Rather than Spending Wealth BRK total

Vanguard Total US Market ETF

Building Rather than Spending Wealth VUN total

Total Equity Returns

Building Rather than Spending Wealth Equity totals

Since we are just starting to build the equity side of our portfolio, the positions will start to grow as time passes. We kept a very large portion of assets in fixed income equivalents while I was paying off my student loans. Which I finished paying off in July 2014 (A post which I have yet to write… it’s coming… like the About page… for realz).

Here is a breakdown of Equities to Fixed Income Equivalents not including pension contributions into a pie chart just for fun.

Building Rather than Spending Wealth fi vs equity


Doesn’t that pie chart look like it belongs to someone who is just nearing traditional retirement age? If you stick around here long enough, you will see those values flip with equities eventually making up most of the pie. You should stick around while that pie bakes. Or grows. I’m getting confused with my own metaphors. Anyways, I wanted to demonstrate how I am a shark since I didn’t buy an iPhone 6 like most sheep and instead focused on building rather than spending wealth. Did you enjoying snooping around? Where are you currently investing your money?

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12 thoughts on “Building Rather than Spending Wealth

  1. I’m a shark too! No sheep behavior for me! Although Frugal Hound would probably love to sniff a sheep. A bit off topic I KNOW, but, I used my first iPhone for 5 years. Hoping to get the same (or longer) out of my current 2-yr-old iPhone. No need to buy a new one every year, just sayin.

    1. I know you guys are big sharks… err or is that hounds?? Frugal Hound can be an honorary Frugal Shark. Haha!

      Aw man I’ve only got 4 years on my current iPhone – got some catchin up to do to get to that kind of impressive record 😀

      I bet you guys have a pretty badass plan or some sort of hacked prepaid plan?

  2. Great to see that you used that money to invest instead of buying an iPhone 6. As an Apple shareholder I was not too happy to hear this though. 😉 :p

    I’m so glad that I’m on a company phone. Before I got a company phone I had my “not-so-smart” phone for close to 4 years. I would have kept it if I didn’t get a company phone.

    1. My wife has a company Blackberry from 4 years ago which she refuses to upgrade to a new one until it literally stops working. She was about to adopt my iPhone 4 if I had gone through and bought a new iPhone 6, but she’ll happily use her Nokia non-smart-brick-phone until it dies.

      Haha well, I Apple just couldn’t come to edging out Berkshire. I like that Berkshire doesn’t pay a dividend so I don’t have to concern myself with the thought that I am not being fully efficient and optimized with investments inside a TFSA.

    1. I should have specified that the VUN is held in one of our RRSP accounts. We figured that the slight edge VTI would provide by avoiding the foreign withholding tax was not worth it at the amounts we’re starting to invest with – the hassle of NG’ing our money and purchasing with USD on the American side.

      We might eventually sell VUN when we get it to multi-tens-of-thousands and then immediately convert it to VTI in the future.

  3. Are you investing in TD eSeries as well? I have a decent chunk of money split between Tangerine mutual funds and eSeries but not sure if I should or where I should be diversifying further.

    1. Hey Pixelate, I used to have a sample portfolio of $400 worth of TD E-Series funds. Bought them in November 2012 and sold them in January 2014.

      I’m purchasing Vanguard Canada ETFs through Questrade, VUN to be specific. In my case, VUN only covers the US market. Eventually, I will add VXC and VCN to round out international and Canadian market exposure for diversification.

      I can’t really comment as to how much further diversification you would need without knowing what you hold AND what your personal diversification needs are. Some people feel diversified with a handful of individual stocks; others not until they own index funds covering the global market place!

      I would advise you check out the Financial Wisdom Forum – they have a lot of great resources and members over there!

  4. We love VTI in our Independence Fund, but I never realized what the costs for non-US folks would be to buy here. Brutal. 🙁

    Would you mind sharing what your fixed income is? We don’t own any bonds ourselves, but Marie and I see each mortgage payment as a $600 purchase into a 4% bond that we can redeem after selling the property 😉 I love knocking down debt!

    1. Norberts Gambit consists of buying an inter listed stock and buying and selling simultaneously in an arbitrage move to convert currency and paying only the 2 trading fees and the small spread between the 2 inter listed stocks – when exchanging +$10,000 you can save a lot of money on FX. It isn’t that bad to buy on the US side like VTI, just the cost of doing business 😛

      On the FI side, at least half of it is in a 3% HISA and the rest between checkings accounts and other HISAs between 1-2%.

      We are going to leave the relatively large FI component as is and build up the equity positions as that is what makes both of us most comfortable going forward. And we might buy a home in a few years time so would like to have fairly easy access to a fairly large FI stash to use for a downpayment without having to raid investments.

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