It really feels as though each year goes by faster than the last and 2016 was no exception. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older, or maybe there is some truth in that time flies when you’re having fun. To put that in context, if you’ve been following MDJ a while, you may remember my posts on having a newborn.. that newborn is now 8 years old!
On that same note, did you know that MillionDollarJourney.com started in December 2006? That makes this site 10 years old – an eternity in internet years! I am humbled by your loyalty and interest in my financial journey after all these years. While blog posting volume has decreased this past year, I’ve been taking reader advice and writing more of the content (less guest posts). I’m putting an extra effort in posting quality material, and for brownie points, I have started adding pictures to my posts.
My financial journey has shifted from a lofty net worth goal to a slightly different mindset with a financial independence finish line. This new journey has given me a much needed kick in the pants which resulted in a renewed focus on our family finances. As I summarized in my year end financial freedom update, more focus on building dividend income resulted in strong passive income growth of 40% year over year.
In 2017, I hope to continue the trend of deploying capital, but I will admit that there are challenges as valuations are fairly lofty. However, I am slowly learning to deploy capital not only when valuations are crazy cheap, but also when valuations of good companies are fair. I’m realizing that the saying is true that time in the market is much more powerful than timing the market. More time in the market means more dividends collected, which really gets the compounding engine going.
This was quite a year for political and financial news. The biggest surprises to me were Brexit and the results of the US election. While I’m not big into politics, my interest is in the policies that impact the stock market and personal finance. When Brexit was confirmed, I was expecting the markets to swoon and perhaps even start a significant correction in the market. The stock market is known to react negatively to uncertainty – I admit that I was excited about adding to my dividend portfolio. However, the bull market proved too strong and the recovery from Brexit was very quick (within the week).
The next surprise was Trump being elected. All the pundits showcased a doomsday scenario if Trump were elected, and all advised to sell equities and buy gold if such an unexpected event were to happen. When the election results were clear, overnight trading went into a frenzy with markets diving – the analysts appeared to be right for once. But not for long. The bulls came back strong, and the markets opened pretty much even – almost like nothing had happened. In fact, since Trump has been elected in early November, the S&P500 has gained over 7% and most other indices following suit.
Another big news item this year was the movement of oil. Last year, I summarized:
In addition to the big changes to the TFSA limit, the other big news this year was the continual oversupply, thus decline, of oil. As of this post, oil is trading at just under $35/barrel (WTI crude oil). This has resulted in many lay offs in the oil sector, and the market sell off of primarily the smaller oil and gas service companies. The larger integrated companies have been surprisingly resilient in this bearish environment. In my view, unless OPEC decides to drastically cut supply, or other large geopolitical event, oil will continue to stay low. I suspect that there will be more mergers and acquisitions in the energy space in 2016.
I will admit that the outlook for oil was pretty bleak last year, but really turned the corner in 2016. At the beginning of the year, oil made a big run from $35 to $53, but then volatility ensued bringing oil back down to the mid 40’s. Then the unimaginable happened where OPEC and non-OPEC countries agreed to an oil output cut. I certainly didn’t see that agreement happening and neither did the market. The result was that oil jumped from the mid 40’s to the mid 50’s. Any portfolio with energy exposure (ex. Canadian index exposure) has seen a boost in performance this year. While oil is floating around the $53 mark, we could potentially see a higher average oil price in 2017.
Ok, back to the point of the post! With 2016 just about behind us, here are the most popular articles on MDJ for this past year. Feel free to sift through them and I hope that you enjoy. I’m going to take a break away from the blog for the rest of the year, so I’ll see you all in 2017.
The Best MDJ Blog Posts: 2016 Edition
- Best FREE cash back credit cards in Canada – A long-term popular post on MDJ with cards added and deleted as necessary. Everyone loves free cash back, check out my newest favorite picks.
- An update from Pete the 50 year old multi-millionaire – One of more popular millionaires who have posted on MDJ. Pete has amassed a fortune from saving and investing and now generates more dividend income that he knows what to do with!
- 3 Ways to Take Advantage of Free Money – Who doesn’t like free money?
- Investing for my Kids – With some extra cash on hand, I’ve been thinking about setting up the kids with an investment account. Check out what I’ve come up with.
- Best credit cards for travel – Travelling but hate paying the extra fees for foreign exchange? These are the credit cards that charge 0% (instead of the regular 2.5%) on FX transactions.
- Whole Life Insurance for Kids? – A popular and controversial post about getting permanent insurance for kids. Check out the comment.s
- 6 Ways to Maximize Scene Points – Are you a SCENE points collector? This post will show you how to get the most out of the program and some hacks on how to get more points.
- 10 Ways to Save Money on Trips – I’m a research fanatic, so it goes without saying that I do a lot of research for our family vacations. Check out some of my strategies on saving money for vacations.
- Which Province is Best for Living on Dividend Income? – With my new goal of building dividend income, I was curious to see which province would provide the best tax regime to retire on dividend income. Can you guess which is best?
- 3 Low Cost Ways to Convert USD to CAD – With USD gaining so much strength this year, here are some low cost ways to convert currencies.
- Take a Look at our Expenses for 2015 – Ever wonder how much we spend in a year? This article breaks down our expenses by category.
- My Favorite Personal Finance Apps – I use a smartphone like most, and use quite a number of personal finance apps to help me organize, and ideally save money. Check out my favorites.
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year from my family to yours!