It’s been a while since the last new article appeared on the Canadian Couch Potato blog, and over two years since the last podcast. So I’m pleased to share the reason for the long silence: I’ve been busy on a new book called Reboot Your Portfolio: 9 Steps to Successful Investing with ETFs.
I stopped recording the podcast in the summer of 2019 because I needed to take a break and think about how I could make my work more useful in a world of information overload. I didn’t want to just crank out content on a deadline: I wanted to create something that would have a lasting impact on readers and listeners. What was needed, I recognized, was a step-by-step guide to designing, building, and maintaining a portfolio of ETFs over the long-term.
The new book is something of a reboot in its own right. When I was a columnist and editor at MoneySense magazine, I wrote a modest book called the MoneySense Guide to the Perfect Portfolio, which laid out a plan for building a Couch Potato portfolio with ETFs and index mutual funds. That book sold out three editions, but it has been out of print since 2013. I still get emails from readers looking for copies, but there are none, and even if there were, the book is profoundly out of date now. The marketplace has changed dramatically: online brokerages are better and cheaper, excellent new ETFs have appeared, and roboadvisors have become a viable option for DIY investors who want a more hands-off approach.
As 2020 dawned, I had a clear idea of what my next project would be. Now I just needed to find the time to do it. Then along came the COVID pandemic, which meant a lot more time for all of us.
All of these roads led me to write Reboot Your Portfolio. The book is a complete guide to becoming a do-it-yourself investor using low-cost index ETFs. It draws heavily from the writing I’ve done over the years, since much of the advice hasn’t changed. But everything has been thoroughly updated, and large sections are brand new, reflecting the changes in the investing landscape. Moreover, my own approach has evolved during the last decade as I made the transition from financial journalist to portfolio manager: the more closely you work with human beings, the more you realize that simplicity always trumps complexity.
If you’re a hardcore DIY investor who’s been using ETFs for years, and you’re looking for advice about optimizing your portfolio to shave a few basis points in costs or taxes, you won’t find that in the book. The same goes if you’re only interested in model portfolios or specific ETF recommendations.
My goal with the book is to help you get away from the idea that successful investing is about choosing products and obsessing over tiny tweaks that will take you from an A to an A+. As I’ve worked with hundreds of investors over the years, I’ve come to understand that I can help more people just by getting them to an A. The small details don’t matter very much after that—and indeed, stressing over them can easily sidetrack you from what’s really important.
I hope you enjoy the book, and that it will help you get started on a path to investing success.