2 guys working on a computer

What’s My Risk Tolerance Profile?

Written by guest writer Nabil Farah, mortgage specialist @ TD
Translated by Terrie Schauer

Have you ever wondered about your risk tolerance profile?

When investing in real estate, it’s important to understand your income profile and how this affects the types of risks you can and should take with your mortgage financing. With a better appreciation of how risk-proof your profile is, you’ll be able to choose a mortgage product that is right for your situation.
Mortgage markets are increasingly complex, and it’s important to have a macro understanding of your profile and financial situation so that you’ll be able to take maximum advantage of the financing on offer. The amount you can borrow and should borrow is not only linked to your debt ratios.
Do you know if your profile is best suited for conservative or aggressive borrowing?
Here are some factors you should consider:
  • Your income:
Depending on your credit score, allowable debt ratios will be between 42% and 44% of your gross income (this includes all debts, car loan, credit card balances, lines of credit etc) and between 35% and 39% of your net salary (for the property you are looking at purchasing, including municipal taxes, condo fees and heating).
If you earn 5,000$ gross each month, your debt service payments must be under 2,200$ and the monthly costs associated with owning the property must not exceed 1,950$. This calculation is call a “Stress Test” created by the Federal government to protect Canadians in the case of an interest rate hike. The Stress Tests are done today based on the higher of two numbers: the Bank of Canada’s Benchmark 5 year rate (fixed today at 5.14%) and the client’s quoted rate plus 2%.
For rental properties, the calculation is a bit different since some banks (including TD Canada Trust) examine each file case-by-case. The good news is that rental income balances out the expenses associated with owning the property in question, either entirely or partially, which allows you more borrowing flexibility.
  • Your financial stability
The type of income you earn is also an important factor to consider.
If you have a stable job with a base salary + commission + bonus, your additional revenue can help you should things become financially strained. Your profile will allow you to get close to the 44% permitted debt ratio.
An aggressive strategy may be a good idea.
However, if you have stable employment but few prospects for a raise or promotion, a more moderate financial plan may be a wiser option.
If your income is 100% commission or you’re an independent worker, a more conservative approach is recommended unless your income-history shows a lot of stability.
  • Your saving habits:
Your investor-profile has a lot to do with how you make your income. But banks also look at how you manage your money.
If you have considerable savings, I’d be more comfortable recommending an aggressive approach, since you know how to manage in difficult months.
If you have little or no savings (or if the purchase uses most of your savings), you’ll save time and energy in the future if you opt for a conservative strategy today.
  • Your age:
At the start of your career, you have many years of promotions, salary increases, and opportunities to look forward to. Choosing an aggressive plan makes sense for this type of profile. As time goes on, you’ll be able to pay down your mortgage faster and build equity each month.
Closer to retirement, the game changes and you’ll need a different strategy. Even if you can borrow a bit more, budgeting to use your full income each month may not be a good idea. At 58 for example, for a 20-25 year amortization period, it’s wiser to base your calculations on what your revenue will be once you retire.


Wise investors question the risks facing their investments. To assess this information before making a decision, a meeting with a Specialist is always the best option. Especially in a growing and changing market, as is the case in Canada today.

Want to know more?
Come listen to Nabil on Risk Tolerance at our next investor’s workshop in May.

Mail boxes in expensive building

Wealthy Landlord, Wealthy Renter: Should You Really Buy Your Home?

Spring has been a weird one in Montreal. House- and condo prices have jumped in leaps and bounds. Ten offers, bids 50k over asking price, and my clients still don’t get the house. People in Toronto or Vancouver may laugh: prices in Montreal are pretty reasonable. But for the city that real estate forgot, this is all new for us.
It’s an opportune time, I think, to examine just how conditioned we are to believe in owning our homes. I’m a bit horrified when I watch buyers add extra tens of thousands in bidding wars without pulling out their calculators!Alex Avery might say one word to this: opportunity cost.Before laying down large sums for a plex, condo or home that you plan to live in, I highly suggest you run some financial projections. You should probably also read Alex Avery’s book, The Wealthy Renter.

People assume that buying a principal residence makes sense from an investment standpoint. Why throw money away on rent, right?  

Not so fast. Investing is all about leverage.
The question should be, what else could you do with that money?

In The Wealth Renter, Avery argues that your down-payment money may be better leveraged in other ways.

Let’s take a simple example. Suppose you want to buy a condo or cottage for 300k. Let’s assume you put down 20% (60k). At 4% interest, these payments will run you 1250$ / month. Add 200$/month property taxes and the same in condo fees or, in the case of a home, 250$ in maintenance (no upgrades!!), and you’re running 1950$ in monthly payments. None of these expenses is tax deductible. You’re building equity at a rate of about 500$/month. Your ROI in terms of building equity is 6000$/60,000$ or 1%. Sound like a good investment?

“What about market appreciation?” you say.

Okay, let’s assume 3% appreciation per year. (This takes the ups-and-downs of real estate cycles out of the picture). You’re now making 4% on your money. Still sound like a good investment? Remember: your payments are made with after-tax dollars. None of the work or maintenance you do is tax deductible, and neither is your mortgage interest. Sure, you won’t have the capital gains hit when you sell. But still, 4%?

Let’s consider the same scenario, but with a rental property. Your cost structure is the same (1950$ / month), but now you’re making 1950$ in rent. Also, you expense all sorts of things to help create a loss in the early years of ownership, creating tax advantages. You can also expense your mortgage interest.

What about paying rent?
Sure. We all agree you need to live someplace. Let’s make your rent 1000$/month.

Your out of pocket is half the amount it would cost you to own.

Now, let’s say you’re still making 3% appreciation like in scenario one, but you’re also saving 1000$ per month because your tenants are paying your mortgage and building expenses. Add 12k to the initial 6k being capitalized. You’re now making a 30% return, plus the 3% market appreciation. 33% return. Versus 4% as a homeowner. See Avery’s point?

People may argue that there are drawbacks to renting. You can’t upgrade or really customize the place you live.

Says who?

I’ll tell you right now, if one of my tenants offers to redo a kitchen for me, I’d happily agree to reduce his or her rent a bit. Consider what happens if you spend 5k redoing your landlord’s kitchen in scenario two.

Suppose you negotiate a 100$ rent reduction in exchange for 5k of renovations. You now save 13,200$ on your living expenses in comparison with scenario one. Subtract 5k for the kitchen renos from your savings, and you’re still ahead by 8,200$ over the person who bought their home. Now add the 6000$ of equity. That’s a 24% return!

Still think becoming a landlord redoing someone else’ kitchen is such a bad idea?

I don’t want to bash home-ownership. I live in a house that I own, and if I took out my calculator, I expect I’d be horrified at my cost structure. That said, before succumbing to current market nuttiness and tying up vast amounts of capital in a project with a questionable return, you may want to reconsider renting, and save your first purchase for a rental property. This is especially if you prefer to live in a more expensive, trendy area, where the ratios and prices are right now out of whack.

Good luck and play smart!
Yours in investing,


Photo by Fervent Jan on Unsplash


Bruce Lee on egolessness: 

“The point is the doing of them rather than the accomplishments. There is no actor but the action; there is no experiencer but the experience.”

“The great mistake is to anticipate the outcome of the engagement; you ought not to be thinking of whether it ends in victory or in defeat. Let nature take its course, and your tools will strike at the right moment.”

“It is the ego that stands rigidly against influences from the outside, and it is this “ego rigidity” that makes it impossible for us to accept everything that confronts us.”

“Because one’s self-consciousness or ego-consciousness is too conspicuously present over the entire range of his attention, it interferes with his free display of whatever proficiency he has so far acquired or is going to acquire. One should remove this obtruding self or ego-consciousness and apply himself to the work to be done as if nothing particular were taking place at the moment.”


Be careful who you listen to!

Once upon a time, an old farmer found an eagle’s egg. Because he didn’t know where it had come from, yet he wanted the bird to have a chance at life, he placed it into the nest of one of his chickens.
The eagle hatched along with the other chickens. He learned to scratch for worms and to flap a few feet off the ground.

One day, the young eagle looked up and saw a majestic, older eagle soaring high in the sky. Captivated, he asked one of the older chickens:

“Who is that beautiful bird?”
“That is the eagle, the king of birds,” replied his chicken-friend. “They dominate the sky, while we chickens live on earth.”

The young eagle proceeded to live the rest of his life as a chicken, for that’s what everyone led him to believe he was.



Great weigh-in pic – right?
Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins.

Now look again.
Notice anything about these guys’ shoulders? Especially Jean Pascal’s?

You should. They exhibit a perfect example of what I’ve come to call “Boxer’s shoulder”. It’s the condition where either striking or the constant push-and-pull in Jiu-Jitsu causes your pectorals and the muscles in the front of your shoulders to become too tight for your back muscles.

The result: a rounded back with shoulders that slope forward. And that oh-not-so-nice pain in between the shoulder blades because your Rhomboids are too weak to hold you in the proper position.

If you don’t yet look like Jean Pascal, you want to try a dose of prevention.

1) If you’re striking a lot with your arms or doing a lot of Jiu-Jitsu, cut other “Pec” exercises like push-ups from your workout. You need to work on balancing your body. If you’re already over-exerting your pecs and the front of your body, take any additional time to do back exercises (like back extensions or reverse push-ups on the bench-press bar).

2) Stretch your pecs !

As muscles become stronger, they shorten. This is why boxers’ shoulders are out of alignment: their pecs are too short. You fix this by strengthening your back muscles, but also by loosening your front. A regular pec stretch on the floor or the wall should be done at the end of each workout.

Fixing Boxer’s Shoulder
If you’ve already become misaligned, you’ll want to follow the above advice, and step it up a notch. Preventing a problem is easier than re-adapting your body once it’s already gone out of whack.

You’ll want to add additional exercises to reinforce the backs of your shoulders. Try the “Dragon Fly”

or the Dolphin pose in Yoga.

The stretches to do are essentially those I mentioned earlier plus any other pec or front-of-shoulder stretches you might know.

You really want to integrate these stretches and exercises after every work-out if you find your shoulders are already slumped inwards.

You can also try to concentrate – during the day – to keep your thumbs pointing forwards when you stand. People with boxer’s shoulder tend to have the tops of their hands pointing forward when they stand. You want to rotate your hand so that the thumb points forward instead. This will force your shoulder into its correct position.



I was talking to one of my teammates the other day about the meaning of the word “Dojo”, and by extension what it means to go to the place where we learn our art. According to my teammate, a “Dojo” is “the place where we kill our Ego”. I thought this was a pretty cool ancient sound-bite because it encapsulates an important aspect of learning a martial art. No matter how confident or self-assured you are when you walk into the gym, it’s simply a matter of time before something humbling takes you down a notch. Whether you’re an instructor and a student asks you a question you don’t know how to answer or a beginner who is constantly physically humbled by the others in the school, Ego-destroying experiences are a vital aspect of being a martial artist.

After all, the Ego-killing aspect is one of the beautiful things about learning a martial art. Knowing how to defend yourself may build confidence, but lest that feeling grows into pride, your teammates are there to bring you back to earth with a submission or a tough sparring session in the ring. This is, of course, a bit of a paradox: training builds confidence but destroys Ego.

That being said, my teammate’s definition got me wondering. What is the ‘real’ definition of Dojo? And does this offer any insight into what it means to be a martial artist?

Dan Prager, the martial artists and blogger, answers this very question by citing Richard Strozzi-Heckler’s book Holding the Center – Sanctuary in a Time of Confusion:

dojo is a space of commitment in which people practice together. What is powerful about the dojo is what it tells us of learning, and ultimately, of waking up, of being alive.

In Japanese, “dojo” refers to the place where we train “in the way”. This points to two important distinctions. The first is that the dojo is a place of learning where one practices what is being taught. This is different from the conventional classroom where students sit passively taking notes or listening to a lecture. This is not to say authentic enquiry is unavailable in lecture halls, but it points to the difference between academic knowledge and an embodied knowledge that allows people to take actions that sustain and enhance their lives. In a place of learning like the dojo students practice what is being taught and over time begin to embody the subject matter. It lives in the body, it is who they are.

The second distinction revolves around the concept of “Do”, which translates as “Way”. The origin of the word “dojo” comes from the Sanskrit bodhimanda, which means the place of awakening. The Japanese kanji for Do is composed of two parts. One depicts a man walking on a road. The other is the human throat, which surrounds the jugular vein, representing the very core and pulse of our life. A man walking toward life. The Way is a theme of life. The dojo is a place where we awaken our body, grow the self, and unite with the spirit through rigorous and compassionate life-enquiry.

(You can check out Dan’s blog at http://maaml.blogspot.ca/2009/09/dojo-its-purpose-and-meaning.html)

Okay – so it looks like my teammate wasn’t totally right.
But to my mind, there’s something very meaningful in what Strozzi-Heckler says. It reminds me of something a teacher of mine once said.
“No one owns Muay Thai,” one of my old instructors told us. “It travels through us. First, we learn the art to be able to fight, and then we teach it to others for the same purpose. Our goal as fighters and teachers it to pass on our art…”
We participate in our art but do not own it. If we train and teach well, others may also follow this way too.

Food for thought!
Happy Tuesday!



Age – 30 years old
Fighting weight – 55-60kgs
Record – 13 wins, 2 losses, 1 draw
Titles – Dutch Title (59kg), World Title (55kg)
Hometown – Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

Contact to book fights : teamschreiber@hotmail.com (Bob Schreiber)
Link to gym website: www.teamschreiber.com

What does being a “warrior” mean to you? Do you have a specific image of yourself as a fighter or as a person?

My personal vision of a warrior is a person, man or female, who does what it takes to conquer. I don’t have a specific image of myself.

How has the mindset you developed in fighting made it easier for you to exceed your limits in the rest of your life?

It has made me more confident about me. Therefore it seems when facing a ‘limit’ now I approach it as a challenge. Same with every fight. Instead of being insecure I now immediately think of ways to resolve the issue cause I am confident I am strong enough to overcome the problem.

Fighter Interview: Jorina Baars

Fighter Interview: Jorina Baars

A Young Dutch Lady Not to Mess With…

Age – 20
Fighting weight – 65kg
Record – 22 wins(9 by k.o.), 3 draws, 0 losses
Titles – 3 x Dutch Champion, 3 x European Champion, 3 x World Champion
Nationality – Dutch

Contact to book fights – irmaverhoeff@hotmail.com

What does being a “warrior” mean to you? Do you have a specific image of yourself as a fighter or as a person? 

I started training in kickboxing when I was quite young. That was my sport – I like to train kick-boxing. I’m not a street fighter or anything like that. I fight only in the gym and in the ring.

When I fight I’m like another person – I’m a different Jorina than when I’m at home. Some people think that I’m joking when I say that I’m a kickboxer.

How has the mindset you developed in fighting made it easier for you to exceed your limits in the rest of your life? 

The sport makes me more relaxed outside the gym. When I’m out with my friends and someone wants to fight me, I just say: “Come tomorrow to the gym.” When they don’t show up, I know they’re losers!

What have you learned through fighting that has helped you become more effective, balanced or happy in your life? 

I give everything in training. When I’m angry, I punch the bag very hard. I punch so hard that all the aggression is out!

Check out one of Jorina’s Fights!!

Here’s her website:

And two other websites where she appears:
www.sportsartdenhelder.nl and www.teamschreiber.nl



Age – 29
Fighting weight – 137
Record – 7-4
Titles – Shin Do Kumate Middle Weight Champion, USKA middleweight champion
Contact to book fights: rigelcoolheart@hotmail.com
Link to promotional or gym website: http://www.phillymma.com/

Where does your motivation for fighting come from? What makes you want to fight and train?

I fight because of the mental and physical challenges it presents. There is nothing like getting in a ring and pushing yourself to your mental and physical limits. The training is even tougher. I do it because I love muay thai and fighting is largely about bringing honour to the camp by going good muay thai.

What does being a “warrior” mean to you? Do you have a specific image of yourself as a fighter or as a person?

A warrior is a person with a strong heart. In Thai they call it Gamlang jai. Warriors are people who will not let themselves be defeated regardless of the outcome in the ring. They fight until they can’t. And then they keep fighting. I’m a fighter who tries (though I’m not always successful) to enjoy myself in the ring. People frequently comment on how much I’m smiling before and even during the fight. It’s a real privilege to fight and I always try to keep that in mind.

How has the mindset you developed in fighting made it easier for you to exceed your limits in the rest of your life?

I get very anxious about fighting. I’m never afraid of getting hurt, but I get nervous that I won’t fight up to my potential. My anxiety will get so bad that I think of backing out. I come up with elaborate plans to leave the country or find other ways to get out of fighting. However, in my five years of fighting, I have never backed out of a fight. Knowing that quitting is not an option forces me to continue despite nearly disabling fear of failure. Very few other experiences compare to the challenge of fighting. I try to keep that in mind when I face difficult situations.

What have you learned through fighting that has helped you become more effective, balanced or happy in your life?

Fighting has taught me to focus on one thing and excel at it. I’ve always been a person with diverse interests who likes to stay busy. At one point I was volunteering, doing prisoner activism, working a few jobs, going to school and training muay thai. I loved everything I was doing, but couldn’t put my full effort into any one thing. With fighting, you have to dedicate yourself 100% or you just shouldn’t do it. I figured out that I would rather simplify my life and focus on the few things that matter than spread myself too thin.

What advice would you have for other women looking to get into or excel at your

We need more women to get involved so that the sport can grow. Most of the female fighters I know have a lot of trouble finding fights because there are so few of us out there. Fighting is not for everyone, but you won’t know if you’re a fighter until you train and actually get into the ring. The most female fighter I know got into the sport for fitness, fell in love and realized that they were fighters.



Fighting weight: 44 to 47 Kgs
Record: 32 wins – 9 losses – 0 draws (18 ko’s)
2005 IKF North American Champion
2006 IFMA World Champion
Currently rated #1 in the WIKBA ratings

Hometown: New Liskeard, Ontario
Training Camp: Lanna Muay Thai, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Trainer: Kamon Khaengraeng
+66 894 309324
Manager: Andy Thomson
+66 819 513164
Gym website: http://www.lannamuaythai.com/

What does being a “warrior” mean to you? Do you have a specific image of yourself as a fighter or as a person?

Being a “warrior” means pushing myself to the limits. Be the best I can be, inside and outside of the ring. Fighting has made me a stronger person physically but especially mentally. To be a warrior means to persevere and to never give up. Give your all and you’ll come out on top. There are always obstacles getting in the way, mountains to climb and rivers to cross. But through fighting, I’ve learned what an amazing tool the mind can be. With a strong mind and a big heart, your body will over come these obstacles.

I never set out to be a fighter and I’m sure no one in my family expected it either. I was always the smallest in my class, always the quiet one trying to stay out of people’s way. I started doing muay thai for the physical benefits. I loved the workout and the way my body was responding to the hard work. I showed up at the gym one day and my trainer told me he’d gotten me a fight. I’m not a quitter so I accepted. I lost the fight but loved the adrenaline rush that came with it. I knew I could do better and knew I could win.

I don’t see myself or my life as anything really amazing. I’m just doing what I love. I guess I’m just really lucky to have the opportunity to be doing it in Thailand! I’m living my dream.

How has the mindset you developed in fighting made it easier for you to exceed your limits in the rest of your life?

At the moment, I’ve pretty much dedicated my life to muay thai. I live in Thailand and fight as often as I physically can. I train twice a day, 6 days a week. It doesn’t leave much time for anything else. I have always been a very dedicated person to what I do, whether it’s work, relationships, or fighting. Right now, work is fighting so it makes it easier to stay focused and dedicate 100% of myself to what I’m doing. Muay thai and fighting has given me confidence in myself and my abilities. It’s shown me that there is so substitute for hard work.

What have you learned through fighting that has helped you become more effective, balanced or happy in your life? 

I’m not sure that fighting is what has helped me learn how to be more balance and happy in life but more my experience in Thailand. Through living here day in and day out for over 2 years, I’ve learned to appreciate the little things in life. Through training and my interactions with so many people from different walks of life, I’ve learned to be more patient and relaxed. My trainer has helped me see how important it is to forgive. The people of this country have shown me that a smile goes a long way. I’ve also learnt to live for today. I don’t think 2 fights ahead. I think of the one coming up. I live in the present and will deal with the future when it comes.