Aug 11

Tired of Poor Returns and Lousy Financial Advice?

If you are one of the 80% of Canadians and Americans who don’t have a defined benefit pension plan, if saving millions of dollars to provide for your sunset years just isn’t doable, if you are fed up with tech bubbles, fund and financial advisers like the incredibly annoying ones shown in the above video as well as poor returns from mutual funds, t-bills, money market funds, savings account interest, bank fees, life insurance “investments”, the stock market, LIRAs, RRSPs, TFSAs, 401(k)s, IPPs, IRAs,


option trades, day trading, and other types of investing save and except your own small or medium sized enterprise, one you own and control, and real estate, then get (and read) these books by Bruce M Firestone, PhD (yours truly):

Real Estate Investing Made Easy

Retire Rick Retire Early

Real Estate Handbook

Here’s the thing—I’ve found that if you own your own home, two duplexes, one small commercial property and some land, you can probably generate more than $72k per year free cashflow, 15 or 20 years after you start. This won’t put you in with the top 1% but so what? You won’t starve and you will have some inflation protection (real estate tends to increase in value over time). Plus you will have a lot more flexibility than all the other alternatives, which seem to have more rules than a porcupine has quills. 

Ever try to get your money out of a LIRA so you can create a self-directed mortgage investment? Good luck with that. They don’t call it “locked in retirement account” for no reason. 

My father-in-law, Ken MacMillan, believed in two things: cash and real estate, and disapproved of two things: debt and me (because I built a sports, entertainment and real estate business largely with debt, and because I ran off with his most precious asset–his only daughter, Dawn.)

In a place like Ottawa, if you own your own home, two duplexes, a small industrial condo and a lot somewhere nearby, you probably have a portfolio worth about $2 million. Once your mortgages are paid off, you’re cruising. If you ever get into trouble, you can put a mortgage or HELOC (home equity line of credit) or reverse mortgage on one of your properties in a week or so and, presto, you have some tax free money in your hands to deal with an emergency. 

Once you turn 80 and if the above scenario fits your profile, you have my permission to take out a loan for $60k, and blow it on a 6-month trip somewhere nice (Crete beckons to my wife and I BTW).

Now people who come to me for real estate advice and brokerage services (I’m available) understand every part of this except the commercial side. They think “commercial” means you’ve got to be the size of Minto. Rubbish. 

I have developed a small retail plaza (Dunrobin Village), a mini storage business (Blue Heron), a mini office business (Terrace Corporate Centres), a travel apartment business (PETA, not People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Presidential Executive Travel Apartments), a business newspaper (Ottawa Business News, the precursor of Ottawa Business Journal—this mention just snuck in here). I also dabbled in industrial condos—small, individual units usually with some office space in front and warehouse in back that anyone can buy—investor or end user.

These days, every time I think about investing in another sports team, a tech company, a life insurance policy, a mutual fund, my wife makes me take out a piece of paper I carry around in my briefcase and read aloud three times, “IT’S REAL ESTATE, STUPID.” It’s the only thing that has worked for me and, as I get older and there is less runway ahead than behind, the urgency and truth behind this statement becomes more apparent.

I also do real estate coaching, which will set you on a path to financial independence. For more info about that, please visit

Bruce M
Firestone, B Eng (Civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD

Ottawa Senators founder and Century 21 Explorer Realty Inc Broker

613.422.6757 x 250


“Making each day count”

Spread The Word

About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.