Let's pretend you finally found that perfect place to build an Off Grid home. You build it, you add solar and wind power, you have a garden that supplies 70% of your food needs, you have chickens which supply another 20% of your food needs (in either poultry meat or eggs), and you are fishing regularly. Maybe even hunting a few times per year for rabbits, turkeys or deer.
So you're all set for food, shelter and electricity.
You even have the internet.
But how do you make money so you can also pay for your land taxes and anything else that you might need?
Well, if it was me, I would just be offering archery lessons, horse riding lessons, and equestrian archery lessons. But not everyone is an archery instructor.
Some people have skills that can easily be bartered so they can make money on the side.
Eg. Training disobedient dogs so they stop being such a problem. A professional dog trainer typically charges $35 to $120 per hour, and it is definitely a skill you can do when living in a region where a lot of people own dogs.
And doubtlessly you have other skills that are well paying, the trick is finding the clients.
Another route, if you're willing to take the time to research things and you have money set aside, is to invest in the stock market.
This can be a very lucrative way to make money, but it often requires a sharp mind, and an eye for investment opportunities. Not everyone can do this and make large sums of cash.
If you're new to investing in the stock market I recommend starting with a platform that has low fees (or almost zero fees) for investing.
For example, TD Waterhouse charges you $9.99 per purchase - which is a ridiculous sum if you only want to invest $100 per month. It means you are paying $100, but only getting $90 worth of stocks, and you're hoping it goes up at least 10% so that you get your money back on the trade. Plus that is just the purchasing fee. They have other fees to for everything they do. Nothing is free because TD Waterhouse is an investment bank and as a bank their primary goal is to charge ridiculous bank fees and make lots of money off the fees. Thus TD Waterhouse is really only geared towards rich people with tonnes of money who can afford to be paying such a ridiculous fee just for 1 trade. Plus then there is the matter of Canada's Capital Gains Tax (on whatever profit you make from stock sales), so investing via a company like TD Waterhouse is just a really stupid idea when you consider both the fees and the taxes.
And you have to wonder what your $9.99 is going towards, because it isn't going to a person who is manually buying the stocks for you. It is all managed by a computer anyway. So why are the fees so damn high?
Meanwhile another Canadian company like Wealthsimple, which operates as an app on your cellphone, and is geared towards everyone, has zero fees per trade because they make their money in a different manner for premium services like currency conversion, an account management fee of 0.5% for balances $99,999 and less or 0.4% on balances above $100,000, and a 0.2% fee when people buy ETFs.
So really you end up spending very little on fees, and it is very affordable for average Canadians who likely have less than $10,000 to invest.
And right now, thanks to a special promotion, you can win 2 free stocks just by joining Wealthsimple.
Use this link to join and get TWO free stocks to trade https://my.wealthsimple.com/
The way it works is you join, deposit at least $100 into your trading account, and you win the equivalent of 2 free stocks, but they give it to you in cash instead of the actual stock (which you can then use to buy either that stock or different stocks).
When I first joined they were only offering 1 free stock, but I got lucky and won 1 stock of Intel, which was priced at $69.10 at the time. So my $100 investment quickly earned me a profit of $69.10.
I then took $50 worth of that and invested in a Canadian company that makes drone delivery software (FLT / Drone Delivery Canada Corp, which is currently a $270 million company and growing...) and drones, and I suspect they (or companies like them) will someday put pizza delivery and Amazon delivery people out of business, because everything will be delivered by drones instead sometime during the next 10-20 years.
At which point the stock I purchase for relatively little could be worth a lot more. The company is already valued at $270 million, but when drone delivery becomes super popular I expect such a company will be worth billions.
And that $50 I used for the initial investment, I got it for free just for signing up.
At present I am investing $1200 during 2021 ($100 per month for the year) and my plan during 2022, assuming that I am doing well financially, is to continue to invest more by raising the amount I am investing per month to $250.
Because Wealthsimple allows you to deposit $250 into your trading account with zero fees and zero waiting, but only once every 3 days. This is another way they make their money. If you want to deposit more than that then there is a 3 day wait for larger deposits, or you can get it done faster by paying a $3 subscription fee so you can deposit $1000 instantly.
So the basic service is free, and you're only really paying a lot more if you're looking to invest a lot more in a hurry (which you should not be doing anyway if you're not familiar with how the stock market works).
So during 2022 my plan is to be investing $250 per month, for a total of $3000 for the year. And keep doing that during 2023, 2024, etc. I may raise the amount I invest over time, but for now this is my plan. It would nice to someday be investing $1000 per month, but this is a good plan for now.
I have also come up with some guiding principles for how I choose to invest in stocks.
#1. I am only investing in Canadian Stocks.
Why? See my "Stock Tip for Canadians" further below and you will see why the Canadian-US dollar exchange rate makes a big difference. You really don't want to invest an American stock, and then the Canadian dollar goes up in value, and your potential earnings effectively go down in value. Read the section further below and you will see what I am talking about.
#2. I am only investing in stocks for Long Term Gains.
I am fundamentally only looking at stocks with a great track record for going up in value over a 5 or 10 year period.
Eg. Look at the WELL (WELL Health Technologies Corp.) stock further below and how it went up in value 5644% during a 5 year period. Someone who bought that stock when it was only 12 cents is probably pretty pleased with themselves years later when they sell it for $7.18.
By only looking for stocks which make impressive long term gains I am admittedly limiting myself to those stocks which I think I can invest a small amount now for a big pay off later. Eg. If I had purchased $60 of WELL at 12 cents per share, that $60 investment would now be worth $3,590.
#3. I am only investing in what I call "Darling Stocks".
Darling Stocks are special in my opinion. They're very good if you want to make long term investments. Here are three examples of what I consider to be Darling Stocks.
See those nice upward curves? Now you will note that PLC (Park Lawn Corp) had a blip there at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, but you will also note that the stock quickly recovered. That tells me that this is a stock that can survive economic difficulties and keep thriving.
Likewise KL (Kirkland Lake Gold) also had a blip during the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic, but similarly recovered and I believe will continue to go up in value when the pandemic is over.
#4. I don't invest in any stocks I don't agree with.
I don't want my money going towards a company I don't like. Simple as that.
Eg. I don't invest in oil stocks. For several reasons. 1. Finding a "Darling" oil stock is basically impossible. Most oil stocks fluctuate so much with oil prices that they are inherently risky. 2. I just don't like them. To me oil stocks are dinosaurs.
Instead what I am looking at is a company that makes hydrogen powered trucks and buses, because that is the future. Hydrogen power is going to be big as the oil industry becomes extinct. If you think Tesla is a great stock right now, fine, but I think Tesla is just a stepping stone towards hydrogen powered cars, which can be refueled faster and have longer ranges than electric cars. So any company with a Darling curve that is making hydrogen tech is the future and a smart investment in my opinion.
#5. I don't invest in any stock I haven't researched.
You have to do the research. See what the company does. See what they make. Does their business model have a future? How did they weather the economic problems of the pandemic? How did they survive the 2007-2008 financial crisis? What are they doing right now?
Eg. Yesterday I was researching Elon Musks "Boring Company" which isn't currently available on the stock market, but I suspect that someday it will be. What makes the Boring Company interesting to me is that they can bore a 1 mile long tunnel for $10 to $15 million USD. Meanwhile other companies in the USA are doing that same thing, but it is costing between $300 million to $2.5 billion per mile in the USA just to make a 1 mile long tunnel.
The technology the Boring Company has been coming out with (automation, smarter technology, more efficient designs, etc) is making tunnel boring cheaper and more efficient means that in 20 years I suspect all of the other tunnel boring companies will be out of business and the Boring Company will likely have a monopoly.
So when that stock comes out I would be very tempted to buy it, even though it is an American stock.
#6. My eye is on the future.
Every stock market investor wishes they had a crystal ball to see the future. For myself I am looking for trends and investment opportunities based on those trends.
More people shopping online? Gotta invest in Shopify stock.
More companies needing gold for electronics. Gotta invest in Canadian gold mining companies.
More people ordering things that get delivered via drones, making delivery people obsolete. Gotta invest in companies that do that.
Currently I never invest more than $100 on an individual company. My goal is to own stocks in many different companies, some of which will make modest gains, and others which might large (or huge!) gains. While some might actually go down in value, but overall by owning a wide variety of stocks in the Canadian economy I ultimately benefit from whenever the Canadian economy is doing well.
And since many of Canada's biggest companies are mining companies, it means I am investing heavily in gold, silver, copper and mineral mining. Fortunately there are a lot of Canadian mining operations which have very attractive Darling curves.
However I also recognize that tech stocks are the ones that are the most likely to go up 2000% to 5000% in a five year period, so buying $100 worth of stock from such a company and later selling it for $2000 to $5000 is definitely something worth doing.
Having a more diverse portfolio of stocks also means your investments can more easily survive economic hurdles whenever the economy sours or hits a speed bump. Some stocks will go up and others will go down when such things happen, but if you own a variety of everything then it won't bother you so much.
#8. I only invest money I can afford to lose.
$50 to $100 on individual companies is not a large amount. If I lose a little, but gain a lot then my investment strategy is still working. Nobody will care if I lose $25 on one stock, but I gain $500 on a different stock.
I am not making huge investments in individual companies. There is another reason why I like Wealthsimple... They recently introduced a new option to buy percentages or fractions of a stock. So for example if you want to buy $100 of Shopify (which is currently trading at $1600 per share), well, you can do so. You only get one sixteenth of a share, but it allows you to invest in bigger companies that you would otherwise not be able to buy because their stocks are so ridiculously expensive.
And I can afford to lose $100 if the Shopify stock later goes down. No biggie. But if you look at the history of Shopify, and how that company definitely has a future as more people are shopping online, well then it is probably a very safe investment.
STOCK TIP FOR CANADIANS
Only buy American stocks when the Canadian dollar is at par or above parity with the US dollar. (This often happens when oil prices are really high, so if you wait for parity to happen this will be a good time to make some long term investments in American stocks.)
So for example, let's say you buy $10,000 worth of Google stock when the CDN dollar is on par with the US dollar. Then you wait 2 years, the Canadian dollar drops in value by 20%, but Google might go up in value by 20%. You sell it for 10,000 x 1.2 x 1.2 = $14,400 CDN thanks to the exchange rate.
So you just got a return of 44% for a 2 year investment in a stock that is pretty much guaranteed to go up.
However let's pretend you did the opposite... bought the stock when the CDN dollar was down in value, and sold the stock when the CDN dollar was up in value and on par.
So 10,000 x 0.8 x 1.2 = 9,600 CDN.
See the problem? Even though the stock went up in value by 20%, you still lost money because of the initial exchange rate.
And this is why Canadians should NEVER invest in American stocks unless the exchange rate is in your favour, and you should only sell that stock when the exchange rate benefits you selling for a bigger difference.
Unless of course you like losing money even when your stock goes up. You'd have to be a bit soft in the head to not be paying attention to the exchange rate. You have to be extra careful when buying any American stocks when the Canadian dollar fluctuates so easily with oil prices.
So how do you make money Off Grid by investing?
Well, there is also something called Day Trading. I am definitely not an expert on this, but it is a lucrative way to be investing in the stock market on a daily basis, wherein you buy one day, wait a day to see if it goes up dramatically, and then sell immediately. That is day trading in a nutshell. You're basically looking for stocks that are going up 10% or 20% per day - often companies that are currently in the news - and then you are effectively gambling that they will continue to go up long enough for you to make a profit, and then you sell before it drops back down again in price.
Eg. Tesla releases a new type of car, you buy their stock, the price of their stock goes up 10% in the same day, you sell the same day or the next morning and collect your profits.
Is it riskier? Absolutely. You're not so much investing in a company as you are gambling that it will go up during a 24-48 hour period. If you time it wrong you are either losing money or stock with a stock until it goes back in value.
Thus my opinion of day trading is that it is really only for people who truly know what they're doing. I will stick to my long term investments instead and companies I actually believe are the future.