Save. Spend. Splurge.

Ask Sherry: What I hold in my investment portfolio, Vaccination, and my newfound addiction to Earrings

You asked, and I am answering every Friday once I have enough questions!

You can ask any question using the form here.

Hi Sherry,
I’m with you on the new Questrade layout, hate it. I know though that I’m resistant to change so I tried to give it a shot but nope, couldn’t do it. Quickly sorted out how to revert to the old layout. Glad to hear I’m not the only not loving the change, clearly the new design needs to be revisited.

You’re telling me. I greatly dislike their new layout, and it doesn’t really change anything for me but make things look “sexy” with no functionality. I like things clear and clean, and now I have to learn something new? I think not.

On a separate note, I have 3 old cell phones that I would love to recycle but every time I look into it, nothing ever comes of it as I have data security concerns.

I would too.

How do I thoroughly erase all my personal information from my old phones before recycling? I mean, I google it but is anything ever fully erasable?

Nothing is truly erasable but the best you can do is erase the phone over and over again so that it rewrites over the data each time it erases.

It also doesn’t help that my old phones completely died on me, they don’t turn on anymore. I worry that if I hand over these “dead” phones to a recycling depot, some tech savvy bad actor might be able to access my personal information. Do you have any specific recommendations on how best to address these security concerns so I can do my bit to reduce waste?

I love this! Yes. Depending on the phone, google how to erase it. Then repeat the procedure 2-3 times at least. Set it up, use it, re-erase it again, over and over again. That is the best you can do. I would first sign out of every app, and delete each app that does not come with the phone. Then delete all the data, erase it. Then set the phone back up again, and re-erase it. That is the best you can do. Besides, these recycling places are mining for the minerals inside the phone, so they’re not likely to do much else with it if you go to an e-recycler.

I will say though, that do not try to puncture the phone or do anything strange like that, as the battery could explode.

Thanks much,
Alana (lonnnnnng time reader, still loving the blog!)

LOL like from the OG days 🙂

Do you mind sharing what you have in your portfolio right now and which ETF/ stocks you are looking to buy? The latest stocks list I find was from 2019 and wondering if you have made changes since then. Trying to haul my overall portfolio and move some of my ETF to actual stocks or different ETF and thought that since we have similar age, portfolio, and approach to life, might be good to see if makes sense.

I have not made many changes since my 2019 list.

I truly stick to index funds, and now have started doing Norbert’s Gambit to convert large amounts of $CAD (over $1000) to $USD and instead of buying VFV.TO (The Vanguard Canada version of the S&P 500), I am buying the Vanguard USA version of VOO directly, as the MERs are lower. A new one I may have added and not talked about is QQC-F.TO, the Invesco Nasdaq 100.

So when I say index I mean:

  • VCE (Canada)
  • VDU (Developed all cap ex U.S.)
  • VEE (Emerging all cap)
  • VFV (S&P 500)
  • VIU (Developed all cap ex North America)
  • VUN (Total U.S. stock market)
  • VXC (Global all cap ex Canada)
  • QQQC-F.TO (Nasdaq 100)

Do I need them all? No. Some are fine like if I put everything into VIU instead of VIU and VDU + VXC, but sometimes I have a $40 balance and I want every penny invested, so I buy the one I can afford with the money.

I have also been doing dividend paying Canadian stocks, which means the Big 5 banks – RY, BMO, CM, TD, and BNS. I buy them in equal amounts, as I am using that dividend income I am getting to supplement my retirement income. Any money I get in dividends from them, I DRIP right back into buying more. One day (?), I will stop the DRIP completely and just use the income as cash to live on. Not sure when this will be or at what income level.

You can also look at Canadian Dividend Paying ETFs (they branch out beyond more than just Canadian banks) if buying individual stock is not your thing, but I am skipping the MERs in creating my own Big 5 portfolio and rebalancing when I see one has gone up or down in value. It can be very tempting to throw it all in BNS for instance, as their yield is in the 4% range as we speak, while the others are at 3%, but I am trying to stay “diversified”. Canada is not hot for dividend paying stocks, except in banks, which are unlikely to truly tank.

Or non Canadian paying dividend ETFs like VYM which is the Vanguard High Dividend yield, but their MERs will be obviously higher, and not advantageous tax-wise to Canadians, BUT their capital appreciation potential is far better than the banks in Canada. Unfortunately. Though the banks have had a decent run since the drop. Must be all the overpriced real estate in Toronto…..

I also like GIB.A (CGI), for solid returns, and SLF or BCE. But really, I have peanuts in there, not any large amounts.

I am not someone who likes to really trade stocks on a regular basis, buying things like Paypal, Shopify, Tesla, whatever stock is out there. I am a buy, hold and forget it kind of person. If it has been tanking for a long time, I like to sell it and just eat the loss because it can do better in an index fund or a bank stock than sitting in a losing one.

Of course, I have been burned by this – I got rid of a stock in frustration only to see it triple in value a few months later, which all the more underscored that I really hate to trade stocks and would rather buy, hold, and accept lower-than-cryptocurrency returns. LOL… 10% over the long term is fine by me. I don’t need 100% returns on everything. To really get any real ‘return’ in these kinds of stocks returning more than 10%, you need to risk serious bank ($50K or more) to see any real gain, AND THEN sell to GTFO.

That kind of trading, nervous, gambling stress is not my vibe.

i) Also, for some reason, I have no idea how to create account to comment on your post. Is there such a thing? Thanks for the reply =)


ii) Long time reader here, just wanted to ask how could I log in and post comments to your blog?

I had removed non-registered WordPress users to allow them to comment, you had to register with and sign in to be able to comment. I basically did it as a way to stop comments completely. Why? Because of the trolling and the general headache #%(#% I do not want to deal with.

I have removed that restriction for now, you should be able to comment again. But… If the trolls come back, I will remove comments again. I read quickly, and try as I might to just delete the comments, I am weary of unnecessary toxicity in my life. I do not need, deserve or want that. I am however, on Instagram @saverspender if you are as well – I message a LOT on there 🙂

Do you get the flu shot as a family? Will you be getting your son vaccinated against covid?

We do not normally get the flu shot, but we definitely got vaccinated and WILL vaccinate Little Bun against COVID. I am weighing it between him getting sick and maybe dying for some unknown gene or reason in his genetic makeup if he gets it, or having this vaccine give him a fighting chance.

Also, the real effects as far as I am reading, should show up within 6 months to 1 year of getting vaccinated. And millions have already gotten it. The very long term effects of the vaccine, would not be confirmed for 10 years, but I am not taking that chance between getting it between now and 10 years, and ending up seriously ill in the hospital.

I am PRO vaccinations all the way, all day. However, once vaccinated, there is and will never be a time I do not want to vaccinate myself or my family, as I trust science, doctors, experts, and will continue to mask up as much as possible, disinfect my hands like a crazy person and stay away from people in general.

You’ve talked about not wearing earrings before – are you scared to get your ears pierced? Allergic to non pure metals? I know you found a conversion set now but imagine all the earrings you could have been wearing to date (or more positively all the $$ you saved so far lol)

I have a skin condition called eczema. Since I was a child, I have been unable to have any cuts, rashes, gashes, or holes in my skin due to my eczema reacting pretty badly. It doesn’t matter what I put as a metal or plastic or whatever. I am not allergic per se to anything, I am just unable to have an open wound (so to speak) as my skin kicks into overdrive and tries to close it up, which triggers eczema, which causes weeping rashes and flaky, scaled skin, right down to the layer of skin where melanin is produced.

So I tried wearing clip ons for years. I really tried, I even owned a few pairs, but they ALL HURT LIKE CRAZY because they were clipped to my ear. Yes, they were more secure, but they were also painful AF in their security. Finding these invisible converters has opened up a whole new world for me.

FYI — I have been doing experiments and the maximum weight they can hold in each ear, is 8 grams. Preferably 7 grams to be on the safe side.

Any heavier, and they will, eventually slip and slide right off as you move about (even gingerly), sit down, etc. I am very sad that some of the very beautiful earrings I got are over this weight limit, so I am changing them into necklace pendants instead.

Still have a burning question?

You can ask any question using the form here and all of my previous Ask Sherry posts are here.


  • Fiola

    Thanks for answering my question on stocks and glad I can comment now 🙂 Out of curiosity, how much do you have in cash at any given time? Sounds like you have minimal, if none? I’m beginning to want to maintain cash balance under $1K since our take home pay should be more than enough for mortgage and day to day expense and just put all the money to stocks. Plus we have credit cards and HELOC to utilize if need be. Would you be comfortable having small amount only for day to day emergency or do you have % of $ you ideally want to have?

    Unrelated – but I love that “enough is enough” link you have in your latest post. It’s always a good reminder on what and why we work for to begin with.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      That’s a great question – I have near to no cash. I have a $1000 buffer and the rest gets invested. My thinking is, if I really need the money, I’ll sell off some investments to pay for it (the ones that did well, mostly my ETFs and index funds). Or I can just use my line of credit – I have about $35K at my disposable I have never touched if I really am loathe to sell investments and need cash in a pinch that I will replace very quickly. I’d rather have my money 100% invested, which is a risk in and of itself.

      Thank you so much – it is true that enough really is… enough. We don’t need more than what we actually need, which sounds so flexible but… it is how I feel. Beyond a certain point, you are just driving a nicer car maybe, or in a bigger home but your core values and spending don’t really change much. And how many cars can one person drive?

  • Alana

    Yeah, you answered my question about the phones! Realized I forgot to put my email when I sent you that note so I was hoping you would feature my question on the blog. Thanks for opening comments again. Fingers crossed that the trolls stay away, it’s so nice to be able to just comment directly on post.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I hear you. It is just starting to become quite toxic lately. People think they can post anything they want, judge you and not feel any consequences because as one troll put it: “It is your problem if you feel bad and had your day ruined from what I said, not mine.” If that isn’t the most narcissistic, entitled answer I have ever heard, I do not know what is.

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