Equity Crowdfunding 101

One of those weekends when I decided to troll the internet for money knowledge (because that's my idea of fun), I came across the concept of Equity Crowdfunding and was intrigued. Sounds like a good idea to add to the high-risk section of my portfolio. Some more digging and I learnt a few more facts that I'd like to share


There are a few big, well-established names like EquityZen, SeedInvest and Crowdcube. Guess what they have in common? No Canadian residents can purchase investments on their website due to our regulatory requirements. Bummer! EquityZen does give access to shares of some of the big tech companies that are not yet publicly traded.

What is equity crowdfunding in Canada? Read here. It's geared toward Ontario but applicable Canada-wide.

List of portals: This archived version is a good starting point though some of the portals are already consigned to the internet graveyard. Here you can find a list of registered portals in Quebec

Time to pause this post for a quick disclaimer: This is not investment advice. Equity crowdfunding comes with a higher risk for investors and is best reserved for experienced and/or accredited investors. A lot of homework needs to be done before diving into this. 

Ok, disclaimer's in place.

What equity crowdfunding opportunities are available in Canada? I see two worth considering: vested and frontfundr.

A casual perusal of their current offerings tells me there's nothing I'd invest in right now.

What's my future strategy? There's a certain percentage of my portfolio (5% in total) that I keep for weird/higher risk investment ideas. This is where things like gold and cryptocurrencies are allocated funds from. I intend to watch the 2 Canadian websites closely and see if there's any company that'll serve as my first foray into the world of equity crowdfunding.

Do you have a portfolio allocation for high risk plays?

Condo Fees Breakdown

Buying a condominium townhouse was the best decision for our family as immigrant, first-time homeowners. I stress the "immigrant" part because home structures and maintenance look very different in Nigeria than they do in Canada. We didn't know the what stucco was, had never lived in a place where it snowed regularly, didn't even know what proper winter jackets were before we moved to Canada from Houston. Living in a condo where the external and structural maintenance was the responsibility of the condo board gave us a chance to learn about home ownership in Canada at our own pace.

It's been 8 years of living in our townhouse and we've learnt a lot! We're now fairly confident that we can manage a single family detached home and are currently house hunting. One of the reasons why we want to move is that while condo living is low-maintenance, that carefree living comes at a price. For us, that price is in monthly condo fees.

Our monthly condo fees are $702 and breakdown as follows:

It's easy to look at the above breakdown and figure out which expenses would be off the table if we were not living in a condo. If you're thinking of owning a condo, these are some of the costs you can expect to see in your condo fees.

PS: Owning a unit in a building with an elevator has a significant impact on costs
PPS: This cost breakdown does not consider special assessments which can come up. For transparency sake, I can share that we've had 2 special assessments in the last 8 years. 

Owning a condo may be carefree, but it comes at a price. It's the price we chose to pay but are ready to move away from.

Cord Cutting 101

Cord Cutting = Cutting ties to cable companies and their exorbitant fees and packages.

We've been a cord-free family for 4 years now and have no regrets. Instead of a $90 monthly cable bill, we get our TV needs met for around $20 a month. I don't watch TV but the rest of my family does. Below is a list of products and services that helped us become cord free.

Viewing Platforms

  • A smart TV that has the various streaming apps installed. Our TV is over 5 years old so all we have is the Netflix app. 
  • Chromecast, Roku stick or Apple TV box. IF your TV has an HDMI port, then you can use these to get streaming services. 
  • A blu-ray or DVD player that runs apps like Netflix. We have this one. 
  • iPad, Android tablet, desktop or laptop with internet connection

Free Streaming Services
The apps of the various Canadian broadcasters (and some of the international ones) allow you to watch clips of the news as well as their various programs. At different times I've had the apps from
  • CTV (Canadian)
  • Global TV (Canadian)
  • CBC (Canadian)
  • International news services: CNN, Al Jazeera English, BBC
  • Nigerian: Channels TV
Paid Streaming Services For Canadians
  • Netflix, $9.99+ monthly: The OG service. The Canadian content is still more limited than the US content but on the plus side, there's now more Nigerian and African content available. 
  • Prime Video,.Free with Amazon prime subscription, $7.99 monthly without: I have this with my Amazon Prime subscription and confess that I've never accessed it. 
  • Disney Plus, $89.99 yearly: Includes not just the Disney and Pixar movie catalogue, but a lot of the programs from their kids' channels as well as National Geographic shows. 
  • Crave TV: Offering from Bell Media. If you want access to HBO programming in Canada without a cable subscription, this is currently your only legal choice. Subscription starts at $9.99 monthly but the package with HBO included is currently $19.98 monthly. 
  • Stack TV: $12.9 monthly subscription service. Offered by Corus Media in conjunction with Amazon Prime Video and subscription automatically includes Prime Video. StackTV is a livestream service of some of the channels under the Corus television brand. Unlike all the other services above, the StackTV channels are not ad-free. 
Granted, our options in Canada are not as cheap or plentiful as the options our neighbours down south have. Still, for anyone interested in cord cutting, there are options out there to satisfy your viewing needs. If you want to be more intentional about your TV watching costs, cord cutting is a no brainer. 

Family RESP Asset Allocation

Let's start by getting the disclaimer out of the way

The information in this post does not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any financial product or service. This is not intended to provide specific financial advice to you the reader. I am not a financial professional, so please treat this post as such. Do not act or rely on the information provided below without seeking the advice of a finance professional. 

On to the main gist: how I choose the investment mix for our family RESP.

RESP = Registered Education Savings Plan

For a basic introduction to Family RESPs and how they work, read here.

Step 1: Data Gathering.

  • Age of kids: 9, 9 and 3
  • Anticipated age to enter college: 19
  • Anticipated year of college entry: 2030, 2030, 2036

Step 2: Assumptions

  • Portfolio will be a mix of stocks and bonds in ETFs/index funds
  • Stocks provide high risk and potential for high growth 
  • Bonds provide stability, lower risk and not a lot of growth
As kids get closer to college age, the portfolio allocation will tilt more towards bonds to preserve whatever the value is and prevent any surprises. The allocation is easier to track if the kids are the same age but they're not. In my case, I have twin girls and a toddler boy with a 6 year age gap. 

Step 3: Define portfolio allocations by age. 
Working from age 19 down, here's how I defined what the portfolio allocation should be for each age.

Step 4: Define portfolio allocation for family plan
I do this by averaging the stock vs bond allocation for the 3 kids and getting what the ratio for family plan should be and round-up or down to make things easier. For my 3 kids, this is what the asset allocation plan for their RESP looks like:

That's my process for asset allocation in a family RESP plan. To achieve the actual ratios, I use a combination of all-in-one ETFs and bond ETFs.

Hope this process is useful to someone trying to figure out the asset allocation process for family RESPs. 

Alternatives to Amazon

Now don't get me wrong; I love Amazon!

The convenience of prime shipping is unbelievable. I've been a loyal Amazon customer for well over 15 years and a big admirer of their customer-centric business model. I also participate in the affiliate program for bloggers, so really I'm not anti-Amazon by any size, shape or form.

However, I can't help but notice that Amazon is practically becoming a behemoth giant and monopolizing almost any segment of business they set their sights on. This is evidenced by the fact the Jeff Bezos is on track to become the world's best trillionaire in a few years time. I honestly don't care about Jeff's net worth; I do care about Amazon becoming my only option for purchases.

To do my share in preventing a situation where Amazon becomes the retailer I'm forced to go to for almost everything, I've started intentionally shopping other online retailers available in Canada. This is all part of conscious consumerism and voting with my dollars. Sometimes it's not the cheapest or most convenient route, but that's a price I'm willing to pay to level the online retailing playing field.

Below is a list of retailers I try to default to in place of Amazon in Canada.

Shopping Cart Photo by Boudewijn Live on Unsplash

Books: Chapters Indigo - it appears their website automatically price matches Amazon and they also have free shipping after a minimum spend. Only thing I'm losing is the Amazon Prime 2-day shipping.

Craftable stuff: Etsy - my most recent purchases were face masks for the whole family and Nintendo Amiibo cards. In shopping Etsy, there's also the un-quantifiable satisfaction of supporting a person trying to make a living with their craft.

Kids Toys: Chapters Indigo and Mastermind Toys

Home Improvement: Lowes - I order online and pickup in store.

Electronics: BestBuy - Started offering curbside pickup when the shutdowns were in full swing

Kids' Shoes: Any of the DSW brands

Furniture: Ikea - shipping is expensive at $50

Beauty products: Beauty Boutique by Shoppers Drugmart

Appliances: Costco, Lowes, Bestbuy, The Bay

This list is limited to online retailers that I HAVE shopped at in the last 6 months with no regrets or complaints.

Bonus: Since the COVID-19 shutdowns started, Amazon withdrew their cashback offers on Rakuten (Ebates). Most of the retailers I've listed above still offer cashback on Rakuten so bonus points to them for staying customer-focused