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Richard Garand, 28
 

Occupation

Owner of a software-development business.

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The portfolio

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) tracking stocks in Canada, the U.S. and other foreign markets.

How he invests

Richard Garand opened his first investment account in 2007 and put money into an S&P 500 Index fund. Soon after, he shifted into bonds and safely rode out the stock market crash of 2008.

Admittedly, luck played a role. He made the switch to bonds because he had decided to buy a house and didn't want to take risks with his savings. In 2011, he sold the bonds to buy a house.

Since becoming a homeowner, Mr. Garand has returned to the stock market. Investing is "prioritized over paying down the mortgage because interest rates are low."

He does not believe in trying to outsmart the market and so owns a mix of index funds. His largest positions are in the following equity ETFs: BMO S&P/TSX Capped Composite (29 per cent), Vanguard Total Stock Market (28 per cent) and Vanguard Total International (22 per cent).

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"Once or twice a year I'll look at where the markets are. If one of my [ETFs] is falling behind, I'll increase my allocation to it." In his view, buying assets cheaply provides the best chance of earning good returns over the long term.

To help with rebalancing portfolios across registered, taxable and other accounts, Mr. Garand has created a spreadsheet. It's available at www.rebalance-my-portfolio.com.

Recent purchase

He recently invested in the Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF (16 per cent of portfolio) to rebalance toward foreign stocks. He could have bought more units in the Vanguard Total International ETF, but its coverage includes emerging markets and in Mr. Garand's opinion, "emerging markets have as much hype as real potential."

Best move

"My timing with bonds [in 2007] …"

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Worst move

Speculating in stock options

Advice

"Focus on what will happen between now and the time you need the money. Ignore the short term if it doesn't affect you directly."

Want to share your strategies?

E-mail mccolumn@yahoo.com

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