Couch Potato Podcast & Update

I was honoured to appear on the Canadian Couch Potato’s podcast (you can listen here). We had a great chat about my approach to index investing and I decided it was time to update my Organic Couch Potato model portfolio.

The most profound change to the portfolio is that we can swap out the old Meritas International Equity mutual fund (with its 1.96% MER) for a couple of new sustainable ETFs that give us global exposure at a much lower cost (0.4% – 0.45%). They’re not perfect, but are a good option for people looking to build a globally-diversified portfolio with a sustainability lens:

iShares MSCI EAFE ESG Optimized ETF (Rich Countries in Europe, Australia, Far East)

iShares MSCI EM ESG Optimized ETF (Emerging Markets like China, India, Brazil)

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Three Reasons Credit Unions are Awesome

***Disclosure: I am a member of three credit unions: Libro, Alterna, and DUCA. I have not been compensated for this piece (nor do I earn any income from my blog). I am a co-operative fanboy who genuinely thinks credit unions are awesome.***

I received lots of feedback from my last post How To Fire Your Bank. Lots of readers were positive, some defended the big banks, but most people just wanted to know more. I couldn’t believe how many people assumed there had to be some sacrifice involved with joining a Credit Union, and that they would have to settle for fewer services. When hearing this in person, I gleefully pull out my smartphone and show them the map of ATMs and one of my mobile apps for easy banking. You can check it out yourself by visiting this site to see which institutions are part of The Exchange ATM network: http://www.the-exchange.ca/default.aspx?PageID=1020&LangID=en

I deliberately wanted my previous blog to be a practical how-to guide, without digging deeper into the ‘why’. I didn’t want to overwhelm people and lose them in the weeds. This piece is a bit deeper down the rabbit hole, so come along with me to find out why Credit Unions are awesome:

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How to Fire Your Bank

Oh, big banks. How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways…

This is a guide to firing your bank and joining a credit union. I’ve included the tips & tricks I’ve learned while helping clients make the shift with their chequing account. Comment below if you have questions or have run into a roadblock yourself and want to share. 

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How Sustainable is Wealthsimple’s Socially Responsible Portfolio?

I was really excited to read that WealthSimple, one of Canada’s better-known robo-advisor services, has introduced a socially responsible investment portfolio. It’s a wonderful option for new investors, and people who simply can’t be bothered to learn how to do it themselves. Of course, me being me, I immediately opened it up to see what they mean by ‘socially responsible’.

Here’s what’s inside:

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The Potluck Economy

Imagine that instead of living in constant scarcity, we live in an economy of abundance. I see it happen all the time. All I need to do is invite people over for dinner!

When’s the last time you went to a potluck? The person who ‘won the potluck’ probably brought something ridiculously amazing and delicious, and there was lots left over.

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Radical Generosity in Action

The deadline to participate in the first round of SheEO’s Radical Generosity program is Friday Nov.27th. Act now if you want in! 

Close your eyes and imagine a world where everyone is being radically generous. Where people are giving to each other without expecting anything in return. 

It’s a completely different economy. Instead of scarcity, we have abundance. Instead of austerity, we have sharing. It changes the energy of our interactions, and brings communities closer together. 

The love economy exists, but it’s harder to measure and is readily dismissed by mainstream economists. Even what people call the ‘sharing economy’ often falls short of the mark.

I’m excited by the concept of Radical Generosity, and have decided to sponsor my sister for the SheEO initiative.

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Who’s Winning the Energy Storage Race? Spoiler alert - it’s not Tesla

I’ve been nerding out on batteries for last few weeks, compiling a list of companies that have invested more than $17 billion in R&D to innovate the next generation of energy storage devices.

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Whenever I bring up the project in the real world, people automatically want to start talking to me about Tesla. Elon Musk has done an amazing job at convincing us that he’s the Tony Stark of the green economy, and will bring us amazing batteries that look cool and smell nice. What’s interesting about the partnership between Panasonic and Tesla to build a $5 billion gigafactory to pump out batteries is that Panasonic is the one supplying all the batteries. 

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The Quiet Death of the Oil Sands Index ETF

Nobody noticed it. There were no talking heads on tv. No tweets. No memes. Investors quietly sold their shares into cash, and a notice was put up the website.

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Nobody noticed when the iShares Oil Sands Index ETF quietly died. Expect for me, of course, because I’m The Sustainable Economist. You see, the Oil Sands Index ETF is my benchmark for the energy sector in Canada. It’s what I use to show people how renewable energy is a better investment than the tar sands. And oh my, how ugly that chart looks right now: 

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Does $6.2 Trillion in Green Investments Matter to the Global Economy?

My latest Green Transition Scoreboard research showed more than $6.22 trillion of private investments into the green economy globally since 2007. I talk about it and most people’s eyes glaze over. I lost them at the word trillion… 

Ok, so it’s a heck of a lot of money that is being invested in all different types of green infrastructure. Renewable energy, green buildings, smart grids, energy efficient water infrastructure, and R&D on all sorts of different clean technologies. We take care to consider what should and shouldn’t be included in the tally. Bandaid technologies like ‘clean coal’ and carbon capture & sequestration are obviously omitted, as are most biofuels because they are a tradeoff between food & fuel (only biofuel from algae is included). We have pretty strict standards, as dictated by the remarkable Hazel Henderson who serves as our moral compass and futurist.

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Don't let your money do things you wouldn't