Millionaire Teacher’s Report Card


Smart investors don’t speculate.

If they do choose to play, they set aside a really small part of their portfolio to swing for the fences.

I don’t mess around with my personal money.

I refuse to play games.

But I understand that some people like to roll the dice.

Since I started to write for AssetBuilder five years ago, I have written 9 predictions/warnings.

Image by Pixabay

Read on, to check on my report card:

Andrew Hallam

I’m a financial columnist for Canada’s national paper, The Globe and Mail, as well as for AssetBuilder, a financial service firm based in Texas. I’m also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School and Millionaire Expat: How To Build Wealth Living Overseas. My mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and best practices for investing, using evidence-based strategies. I'm happy to comment on your questions.

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19 Responses

  1. toony says:

    Andrew, you are batting pretty good compared to other financial “gurus” 😉

    Latest update from Swedroe – always fun to read!

  2. Mustard Seed Money says:

    Wow you have had quite the run. This is great information thanks for sharing!!!

  3. Jim says:

    Hi Andrew,
    In your book p. 196 you say that between 2 ETFs with the same number of stocks and track the same market we should choose the one with the smaller expense ratio. Question: Where do you see the number of stocks? Eg for VWRD I see the expense ratio and the market and the distribution of stocks but not the number of stocks. Sorry for the very basic question e.g

  4. Jim says:

    Hi Andrew,
    In the section about European investing ch 21 why in all your example mixes you suggest only a European bond? Why not a global bond? Is there a reason Europeans should stick to European bonds (unlike stocks which you propose)?

    • Hi Jim,

      With bonds, I prefer (if possible) to have one that matches the home country currency. That’s why I recommended Canadian bonds to the Canadians, Australians bonds to the Aussies, U.S. bonds to the Americans and British bonds for the Brits.


      • Jim says:

        Hi Andrew, but why? You suggest global index for stocks. What is the difference with bonds? Seems to me that one loses out on bonds of many AAA countries that way

        • Hi Jim,

          As I mentioned in both of my books, I feel it’s important that investors have a large home country currency bias. It mitigates the exposure to currency risk. If you’re going to be paying your future retirement costs in UK pounds, you should want a strong anchor to the UK pound, hence a UK bond index. The same goes for other, first world countries. That’s what I included a Euro-country index for those who plan to repatriate to the Euro zone. In this case, replacing the Euro bond with an international one doesn’t mitigate currency exposure risk. It could add to that risk. That said, if you want to go global, by all means. It’s not a huge deal. But it’s a fairly standard ideology among the world’s better financial planners.


          • Jared says:

            Hi Andrew,

            Thanks for writing your books. Huge fan.

            I will start making my investments into Vanguard, however, I would appreciate your help. On page 102 (millionaire teacher) you emphasize a portfolio breakdown which I plan on using. All of these indexes (VBMFX, VTSMX, VGTSX) require $3,000 minimums. Would you invest in these or their ETF counterparts?

            I’ve read somewhere that you use ETF’s. Spending $9k upfront for me is somewhat hard-to-swallow, but I want to rebalance every month depending on which index (or ETF) is underperforming and buy/sell as needed. I guess my question is…does it make a difference if I purchase the ETF or the index?

            How would you proceed?


          • Jim says:

            Hi Andrew,
            I can understand what you are saying if we opt for short term bonds which you also recommend in your book. But for long term bonds it should not matter right? Because there would be very few sells, right? While for a 2 year bond after 2 years we would need to buy a new one hence the currency overhead will show up, right?

        • Jim,

          I only recommend bond index funds, not individual bonds. As I mentioned in both of my books, you should not buy a long term bond market index.

  5. Cedric says:

    Hello Andrew,

    I was looking at buying some ETF bond of dividend, which are BBB government such as ishare EMCP , dividend is around 4 to 5 percent
    what do you think?

    • toony says:

      It’s always tempting to head towards junk bond in periods of low interest (like what we have currently) to generate higher returns. This is often a bad idea that rarely ends well.

      Bonds in a portfolio is not there to generate growth/high returns but provide stability and security to entire portfolio.

      Low grade/junk bond acts similar to equity (similar risk/behavior). Downside is 0 (default) just like equity. However, their potential upside is fixed/limited compared to normal equity. Therefore, it is ALWAYS more efficient/better to increase your equity component of your portfolio than decrease the ratings of your bonds component below investment/gov level, to achieve a higher expected return.

      Eg, If 60:40 equity:bonds -> 70:30 or even 80:20. Always keep the bonds the highest quality you can get!

  6. lucky mike says:

    Hi Andrew – think this is a stupid question but…..are there any concerns with investing in ETFs which have small total asset holdings (and hence lower daily trading levels/liquidity)?

    eg VDEV ($66m), VDMV ($9m), VDNR ($26m), much lower asset base than say VUSD or VWRD – are there any liquidity concerns? And => irrespective of how much I might like a particular ETF, if its “too small” steer clear of it?

    Or is it that as the ETFs actually hold a basket of stocks it makes no difference as any ETF inflow/outflow is achieved by buying or selling the underlying stocks anyway? Therefore any liquidity concern lies with the underlying stocks not the ETF? And => provided the ETF holds a large number of stocks, it’s asset value is irrelevant?

    • toony says:

      All Vanguard products are highly regarded so pretty safe to invest in. The low value are due to them being relative new. With many guaranteed ‘market makers’ trading, you will always have someone to buy from/sell to so liquidity is not a concern.

      Yes, liquidity is more concern with with underlying stocks than with the ETF themselves.

  7. Jim says:

    Hi Andrew,
    You have pointed out that to be safe of US estate taxes we (non American citizens) should never buy US indexes from the US stock exchange. You note that from another exchange e.g. London exchange we are fine. But I can not understand the technical difference between the two since either way we would own US securities either way right? In p. 184 in your book in the Note 3 of chapter 13 you provide a reference link a about this very important information. From reading the link ( with my limited knowledge I can’t see how buying from London SE (or any other non US SE) protects us. Could you please shed some light to help me? Thank you very much!!!

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