A daily vlog talking about Covid-19, dollar-cost averaging, and other topics. Keeping it low key in order to check in with everyone as we are going through these turbulent times.
Did you know we have a podcast? Check out the most recent here and hear us discuss these terms! Passive Income Challenge Podcast
How do you win?
We wanted to keep this one simple, we are going to heavily skew the results based on the amount of return gained in the 60 day window. As of right now, we are planning to factor the earnings based on how many days your investment was vesting.
Example: If you only use 30 of your 60 days, and get a $10 return on 100, we are going to assume that standard return and you have made 10% in 30 days (which would be an incredible return!).
As mentioned above, we are running this first sample for 60 days. Something short and exciting. We are aware this is not long enough to really bake in results, but being our first run at it we wanted an aggressive end date.
We will definitely be discussing things like risk, and time cost during the coming weeks. Nothing is truly passive unless you get it up and running smoothly. While those things will not be considered this time around, we want to be completely transparent on our investments during this period.
If you want your idea mentioned, please send me a note (Sean@Planningfire.com) and I will review your submission for discussion on our podcast!
Investment Start Date: November 4th - November 22nd
Investment End Date: 60 days from your start date
Track your time spent
Track your costs
Track your returns
Thank you, and I hope you will join us!
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If you have made it this far in your investment journey, congrats! You have a budget, you have worked through an emergency fund, started saving and maxing tax advantaged accounts, decreased spending, and are buying wine by the case. So now what? Well, assuming you read the title of this post you may have guessed it - time to start considering the stock market.
Unlike bonds stocks tend to at least keep up with and even beat inflation, meaning you are not losing money by having them. That is a great start if you ask me. Over a long haul, and on average, stocks return much more than the safer options. If all goes well, and you sell at a win, stocks are actually a tax shelter, and assuming you hold them long enough you only need to be concerned with capital gains.
That said, the stock market is really easy, you can only win or lose on stocks. Considering dividends and other items, there is a good chance to win. That said, unless you know something you shouldn't (which legally, you cannot act on) then you are probably best investing in low fee, or no fee index funds. This way you are leveraging averaging to win at the market.
Rules to Investing in the Stock Market
Ignore Your Broker
This is a big one, and goes against lots of advice. That said, statistically, almost no broker has historically beat the market enough to justify their fees. You want to minimize your transaction costs and odds are you should just leverage a low cost broker. If you do decide to use a broker, make sure they have a "fiduciary responsibility" meaning they have to act in your best interest and not theirs. Oddly, this is not a mandate. Be warned.
Also, along the same lines, if anyone offers you a "hot tip" ignore it. Keep it in mind, but do not act on it, if that stock blows up - perhaps next time put a little more faith in it. That said, you are better off not listening to just any advice.
Please use this like an index, I am going to list a whole lot of popular terminology
Well laid out, but anything inside was well known months in advance.
Easy but illegal to make money with.
Past movement in stocks cannot predict future movements. Any chart play is entirely luck - no matter how good the "strategy" is.
Do not do anything to your position, just there to make a stock look cheaper.
Similar to a split but smaller scale, not to be confused with a real dividend.
Dividend Reinvestment Plans
Taking dividends and putting it back into the stock, can be seen as a savings due to no transaction fees.
If you get a small amount, makes sense to reinvest, otherwise take cash and diversify.
Betting against a stock, borrowing from the lender in hopes to sell at the lower price. This is bet against bubbles and or company management. Can be used to make money on "expensive" stocks.
Very small stocks, normally with special purchasing. Tends to have very large spreads.
A group of stocks and bonds.
How volatile a stock is. More volatility more movement,if it moves twice as fast as the market (market own 10% stock down 20%) it has a beta 2.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
30 stocks used as the overall average
Making money on borrowed money. Buying a house @100 with 20 down, selling at 140, you dont make 40% but rather 200% (40k on 20k).
An amount the broker lends you to buy stock, like a stock credit card. Don’t buy stocks on margin.
The broker asking you to pay back your margin.
The ability to buy or sell stock at a price, for every winner there is a loser - the commission add up fast.
Basically betting your shares for some small return. If you think a stock wont move much, you can you your shares and make a few bucks.
Long term plays - similar to puts and calls, however you may be able to move profits into capital gains.
Don’t buy them, most people who do, make no money.
Betting against interest rates, like they are commodities.
Options on Futures
Optioning on commodities and futures.
Anything under $3 a share. Highly speculative, gambling.
Rare metals like chromium, similar to commodities.
Easily accessible money.
Any losses or gains in the same year are a net.
Up to 3k in losses can be claimed, the remainder carries over.
If applicable use losses to cancel out short term gains, they are taxed higher.
Consider if you should hold before you sell.
You can sell the stock and rebuy with the tax incentive, but you need to wait 31 days.
Selling a specific variant of a stock, if you do not want to sell your oldest stock, but perhaps your newest, you need to specify.
Lower cost and information gap between people and brokers
Open only to accredited investors. Charge a portfolio percentage and a high percentage of profits
They tend to command high dollar amounts.
Private Equity / Venture Funds
Venture capital, privately funding businesses for a take.
However high management fees if not doing it yourself.
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It is incredible to think that tax brackets used to be even higher than they are now, with the highest bracket being 50%, meaning for every $2 you earn, you only end up with $1 in the bank. They are slightly less now, but you should be looking for any way that you can save on the tax bill. Think about this, what do you spend more on than income tax?
If you have children, there are quite a few things you can do to lower your tax burden.
That said, in the standard style of this book - I am going to hit you with this information in list style.
One interesting lesson they teach in this book is that you can actually encourage children to start a Roth IRA whenever, however it has to be their earned funds that get invested. As a great way to get kids interested in investing, have them invest (and monitor) their income into a Roth IRA, but then "gift" them their pay for spending. Get it started at an early age, the interest compounding over 40 years is INSANE.
There is of course a lot more that was covered in this chapter, but I wanted to share the highlights. That note about children and Roth IRA's was probably the best take away here. It is such a great way to teach the lesson early. I wish I had that kind of education
This is going to be a bit of a different blog than my normal blogs because normally I am speaking about how to invest, different vehicles, and similar - however, this one is going to be about the number one problem with investing. There is any number of issues, it could be a lack of extra funds, a lack of knowledge, or even time. However, in my personal opinion the number one problem most people have with investing…
It just isn’t sexy or fun!
Basically, we (humans) are very bad at doing anything without incentive, and it gets even worse when we are considering delaying gratification for the next 10, 20 or even 30 years. Let's take a look at saving 20% of your post-tax income as an example, if you make $3,000 a month, you would aim to save $600 of that right off the top. Now, what else could you do with $600 tomorrow? Go out on the town, new phone, new computer, camera gear, very nice whiskeys, the list goes on and on. Or you could “spend” it on your investment account with nothing in return.
That said “nothing” in return is the lie we tell ourselves. However, let us look what that $600 means to our future selves:
10 years @7%: 1,180.29
20 years @7%: 2,321.81
30 years @7%: 4,567.35
Assuming a conservative 7% annual return, you are looking at increasing that $600 almost 800% over the next 30 years! Depending on your cost of living, that $600 a month pays for many months worth of expenses in retirement. That is not even considering things like dividends.
Honestly, just seeing the numbers may not be enough, but one thing that may help - picture yourself in retirement or if you never plan to retire, picture yourself in your 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. Do you still want to be grinding, or do you want the freedom to do what you want when you want to do it. It may be worth thinking about all the thing you could be doing with your time other than working as a motivator.
What kinds of activities do you plan to do in retirement or if you had more time?
Do you currently save - if so what is your savings rate?
Until next time!
Stop me if you have heard this one before, but I managed to save $700 in about 15 minutes.
Back story: I have an insurance broker who I use for all my properties. I am a big believer in the idea that time is money, and I do not want to nickle and dime my trusted partners and I do not want them to "play the game" with me. Basically, I know everyone needs to make money, so I just asked that my trusted partners give me their first and best prices so I do not have to go hunting around for deals. I would rather pay someone the extra $50 than have to spend a few hours researching prices when it comes to my properties.
That said, here is how I saved $700 that quickly. I received my auto insurance quote (I pay the year in advance and budget that throughout the year). I received my yearly quote at $1200, which felt high. I have nothing on my record, work from home, live in the suburbs and my car is a 2010 Kia forte. I felt $1200 for a years insurance was high so I looked elsewhere, and the FIRST quote I found was ~$250 for 6 months ($500 a year!). I spoke with my insurance partner, he could not help, so I switched. No harm, no foul, saved $700 a year.
Moral of the story: Trust but verify. I relied on this partner for my pricing, and if he was $50, or $100 over for the year, I probably would have stayed with him, however, I could not in good faith pay an extra 120%. Also, I write a finance blog, and even I make the simple mistakes like not shopping for prices. It is so easy to let little things like this slip and add up to substantial amounts each year. Have you checked your bills lately?
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I know it is hard to imagine, but you most certainly can scrape by on $165,000 a year (sorry, my sarcasm font is broken). The title to this section is of course a bit ludicrous but it still illustrates some good points. The first thing he recommends here is (I hope you are sitting down) to make a budget. It is a very standard suggestion in a finance book, but here are the steps he lays out:
This certainly sounds a whole lot like what we detailed in our Budget blog: Here. Of course it does, budgeting is the easiest thing to do to set yourself up for success, but it is also one of the hardest things to stick to. Now that you have a budget (and hopefully a bit in the surplus column) it is time to start saving. Having liquid cash helps twice, once when you have it for emergencies, and twice when you are not paying interest on a short term loan to get you out of a hole. Large unexpected items are much easier to handle when you do not need to scramble and figure out where you are going to get the money for them.
Now that your emergency fund is setup, start identifying debt and paying it off if you have it. There are numerous methods (see here for our blog on it) but the important part is really starting to pay it down, and continuing to do so consistently. Also, keep an eye on your lifestyle inflation, if you make $25,000 a year, live like you make 20. If you get a raise, adjust where needed, but still make sure you live like you make less. You never want to rely on 100% of your income if you can avoid it.
Trust No One
Here we move from our budget to something else that you probably know but do not think about. Trust no one but yourself when it comes to your finances, even then, always do your research and read the fine print. One example, just because Alex Trebek tells you to buy life insurance, make sure you determine if you need it. There are any number of areas where this apply:
The Case for Cowardice
Savings accounts are boring and not sexy, but they are safe and provide some (albeit very low) return on your cash. Personally, I find they are useless due to the return being far below inflation, but that is for another article. If you are going to invest in the stock market, do not let fear make your decisions, that is a sure fire way to invest at the top and sell at the bottom. When you decide to get into the market, ask yourself these 3 questions:
If you are going the safe investment with low return route, you have a few options.
I am now going to hit you with a bunch of bond types, and a short descriptions. Probably best to treat this like an appendix.
To end this section, if you are not leveraging the power of interest, and you are saving 20% of your take home pay your entire working life. You will end up with only 9 years in retirement. You need to look at ways for your money to make money or you will run out very quickly.
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Welcome to my next book review series. This time we are looking at The Only Investment Guide You'll Need by Andrew Tobias. That is a pretty big claim to make, considering investments can be complicated and hard to grasp but we will work through it and see how it goes!
Part One: Minimal Risk
We open with some interesting statistics, basically, investing advice needs to change as the market changes. If you put $1000 in savings in 1981, in 2 years you would make $336 in interest, in 2016 however, you would only make $20. So your savings is actually losing you money vs inflation.
Part one opens with some of the old get rich quick schemes, some of these I find pretty funny. Back in the 80's there were people touting investing in Mexican banks at 12% interest vs the 5.5% (I wish!) you would get in savings in the states. However, what they did not mention was the highly volatile nature of the Peso, most people lost over 50% on their capital in a few weeks. There is this really interesting idea that learning more MAY NOT make you a better investor! It makes a lot of sense, most money managers actually perform worse than the market average. Monkeys given a handful of darts perform on average the same as a professional money manager. Consider that next time you are paying someone 1-3% of your portfolio every year.
One thing I want to point out about this book, for better or worse, is that Andrew loves bulleted lists. So my review is also probably going to look and feel quite fragmented - that said, I will cram as much useful information into these write ups as I can.
Unless you know something you shouldn't do not invest in commodities (98% of people, besides the managers, lose on them).
This next section is pretty great, basically a common complaint around savings is that people do not have enough money to save. Awesome, well you could continue to say that or you could do something about it. His first "task" is finding a way to save an extra $1,000 a year. He provides a whole list of ideas, I will list a few of my favorites:
What I love about this section is just that it is not about becoming rich. It is simple ways to save a few bucks here and there that can seriously add up to large amounts over the course of a year. Also, considering you are paying taxes on your income, not spending some of it and getting taxed twice can be a huge boon. Take that money and put it in an IRA for example (what is an IRA? Check here!) to save on taxes down the road.
Conclusion: I like the approach Andrew takes in this book. It is accessible and not everyone can wrangle in their budget and start saving. At this point I have read a few books on this topic and hoped this one would have some new information, and he came through. Until next time!
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One problem with our society as it relates to building wealth, we do not train our children in personal finance. Most schools do not have mandatory finance classes, even though everyone will use it at some point. We need to make sure that we are teaching our children these skills.
In this chapter, Robert lists a series of “steps” to becoming wealthy. I am going to list them here as there really is no better way to write about these.
Find a reason greater than reality: The power of spirit
Determine why you are doing anything - without a good reason you are going to fail. You need to know your wants and “don’t wants” to help drive the motivation to do it.
Make daily choices: the power of choice
You can choose to waste time or do something - if you want to build wealth choose activities that further that goal. He recommends investing in education - perhaps buy key books on a topic, or attend a seminar related to your wealth strategies.
Choose friends carefully: the power of association
This one is easier said than done, but make sure you surround yourself with like-minded people. If you have friends wasting money at the club every weekend, you may find yourself there as well.
Master a formula and learn a new one: the power of learning quickly
Always be learning new skills, and once you have something master, move on to something else. It keeps you moving forward and your mind sharp.
Pay yourself first: the power of self-discipline
You need to be able to control yourself and your spending. Make sure you are paying into your savings (401k, indexes, rental properties, etc.).
The best ways to pay yourself first are simple. Don’t get into large (unproductive) debt and keep expenses low. If you find yourself stuck, find ways to make more, don’t sell assets that make you money.
Pay your brokers well: the power of good advice
A good broker earns their keep and should make you more than they cost you. Ask them what their holdings look like, make sure you are on the same page. If they are not willing to show you, they are probably not worth hiring.
Be an Indian giver: the power of getting something for nothing
Know how fast you get your investment back and the expected ROI. These are key elements before allocating assets.
Use assets to buy luxuries: the power of focus
Again, if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. If you want something, find a way to take what you have and turn it into assets that produce enough to buy what you want.
Choose Heroes: The power of myth
Heroes and mentors are important, you would be surprised how charitable people can be. If you look up to someone reach out, and they may even answer a few questions.
Teach and you shall receive: the power of giving
Once you have achieved your goals, give back. Be a mentor, donate to valuable causes, find a way.
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The primary difference between a rich person and a poor person is how they manage fear
Five reasons financially literate people do not become wealthy:
Fear stops people from investing, and the earlier the better. Compounding interest is a powerful force. His Rich dad told him, “go big - f you lose big, it is a better story. No one wants to admit bankruptcy on a duplex.” While personally, I am a bit more risk-averse than that - I understand the sentiment. Especially, if you are young, you can afford to make mistakes. Want to open that business, go for it - when kids and families are in the picture you lose a lot of your freedom to do risky things.
It is really odd that most people are afraid of the stock market, or investment properties, but will do almost no research before buying a house. These tasks that can make you wealthy, should be prioritized so you can enjoy life down the road. If you are going to choose to play it safe, it is best to start early, that way you have as much time to get compounding interest.
You have to overcome the “sky is falling mentality”, people who say it is too late to invest often are not educated enough on the topic. For example, when most people are saying it is the “worst time to invest”, it is normally the best time to make money. No one was buying stocks in 2008 after the crash, however, if you bought near the bottom, you would have made a killing since then. Also, if you didn’t sell but just held onto your stock, you would still be up over the period.
Cynics use simple and ridiculous excuses to avoid becoming wealthy. For example, many people choose not to invest in property because “I do not want to fix toilets”. That is a simple reason you can use to fail at building wealth. Even if you don’t want to, there are other ways around having to do that yourself (look into property management, for example).
It is odd, but most of the time very lazy people fill their time with useless activities - they just operate very inefficiently. The cure for this laziness is often just a touch of greed, and putting yourself first. This greed can be a motivator to get up and do something about your financial situation. In this case, a little greed can be a good thing, as long you are not using it to hold people down, or step on them to get yours.
Overcoming Bad Habits
Rich dad believes in always paying yourself first - especially if he then did not have enough to pay bills. This gave him the motivation to get out there and do something about it. Personally, I am a bit more risk-averse than that, I make sure my bills are paid before saving, but I do limit myself to only a small portion of my income as discretionary. That way, I am always motivated to find new ways to make money.
This exercise of how to make more money is mental practice, and it is a skill we do not often practice. Something as simple as cutting needless spending truly is the same as earning more.
What I know makes me money, what I don’t loses me money.
Be honest with yourself about what you know and don’t know. Do not let pride block common sense. It is much better to ask a question than have the arrogance lose you a ton of money.
I am just a regular guy who does far to much research on financial independence and early retirement (FI/RE). I look forward to sharing my journey with you all.