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Tired of fees, teacher becomes her own money manager

Dianne Dachyshyn, 59


French-immersion teacher

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The portfolio

Includes: National Bank, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, Bank of Nova Scotia, Enbridge, Fortis, TransCanada Pipelines, RioCan REIT, H&R Block, Inter Pipeline Fund, Telus, TransAlta, Bell Aliant, BCE, Aflac, Abbott Laboratories, Baxter Corp., Kellogg's, Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

The investor

Ms. Dachyshyn began investing with a private money manager who placed her money in a number of in-house funds.

But they did poorly and when she took her concerns to her adviser, she was simply told to buy more, and that with dollar-cost averaging, she would be wealthy down the road.

She began to see how much of her unimpressive returns were being siphoned off by the fund company's management fees and moved to a different firm, which not only pushed her to buy universal life insurance, but also to borrow to purchase more funds.

But it was the high management fees that led to her managing her own portfolio. "I asked [our adviser] how much we were paying in management fees, and he got exasperated and said, 'It's a very complicated formula.'"

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Becoming her own adviser

Managing her money herself, she decided to go with big, blue-chip companies that have a track record of regularly boosting their dividend.

She is invested in some 40 companies, 12 of which are U.S. "I like the idea of long-standing viable companies that have proven themselves over time."

Why she favours DRIPs

Dividend reinvestment programs allow subscribers to use any dividends they earn to automatically purchase more shares. Investors can also usually make extra contributions. Either way, the DRIP not only saves them paying brokerage fees, they can also invest any amount they like, and can then own partial shares.

What about the paperwork?

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One knock on holding individual DRIPs with a number of companies is the amount of paperwork required. But not all of her DRIPs do a monthly mailing, and Ms. Dachyshyn is more than happy to get them in the post and enter the figures into Quicken, a personal-finance software program. "It reinforces that I am doing a good thing for my financial future and I love to see the growth."

How she tackles losses

When I say that I don't mind losing money, what I mean is I prefer to take my losses and use them as learning experiences, rather than drowning in them or allowing them to paralyze me. I'm not that cavalier about it. I just prefer to take things in perspective. I know that I will make mistakes and I allow myself to be human. If I didn't, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night."

Best move

A small investment in Inter Pipeline Fund. She managed to make only one extra optional payment in May, 2009, but gets a kick out of the fact that a $100 investment at that time is now worth $301 just from having the dividends automatically reinvested. "It blows my mind how that little bit of investment is continuing to make great returns," she says. "It's like the little engine that could."

Worst move

Her biggest loss so far has been Yellow Media Inc., in which she invested in 2009, drawn by the high yield. That was a mistake because it was too high, she says. "There is a basic principal that if the yield is super high it's an indicator that it's not sustainable."


Don't jump on bandwagons, because there's usually a lot of excitement around them, but they don't necessarily deliver."

Special to The Globe and Mail

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