Cyber Monday to end all Cyber Mondays

On the radio this morning, I heard about how Americans will spend about $6 billion dollars today, Cyber Monday.  Records are expected to be broken.  This, of course, just a few days after Black Friday, which makes a fair amount of news on its own for its revelation of our lustful spending habits.  So let’s take a  quick jab at this made-up holiday, and some other things we now treat as normal, or even ‘necessary rites of passage’ that once never were.

Cyber Monday was invented not long after the dawn on the online shopping era, and debuted in 2005.  And this year, it is expected that it will be the largest ever.

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Note to Self on Black Friday

Dear Jackass,

Do you think you’re going to hop online, or head down to the shop, and save yourself a fortune by spending this Black Friday? Well below is a little reminder of what will actually happen if you go down that path.

You will buy something you didn’t know existed before you started browsing. By the time you buy it, of course, you will have convinced yourself that you need it.

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Investing as a Long Game

My friend and I were talking about new camera gear: how pricey it is and how much we want it really.  Later that day he messaged me about some stocks he had bought a while ago – in marijuana cultivation companies in Canada.  As I had already heard from a colleague, they were up that day quite a bit.  In fact, some of the most popular marijuana-related stocks in Canada were up that Friday.

My friend messaged later that evening to describe how one could have paid for their new camera gear with those gains.  And this is true, but I tried to point out to him that investing really needs to be considered a long game in order to have any real success at it.  Sure, the stock was up a bunch that day and, in that snapshot, it’s easy to appear and feel like a genius.  But that was after around 2 years of investing.  And that’s his entire portfolio.  And the chances of duplicating that success, let alone triplicating and beyond, are microscopically small, even for those who ‘know what they’re doing’ (i.e. ‘hedge-fund managers).  And, don’t forget, you haven’t really earned a dime until you sell.

So, again, don’t forget that we’re here to change the way we think, particularly about money.  And in this case, specifically, investing.  If you still think the big idea here is to save $10,000, invest it something really savvy and turn it into $100,000 ‘overnight’, then repeat enough times that you can ‘retire’ and live lavishly forever after then you’ve got it all wrong.  Start from the beginning my friend.

First, the goal should never be to live lavishly.  One, it’s bad for the planet and all of its current and future inhabitants, and two, it’s setting you up for failure if you actually want to retire early also.

Second, THAT’S NOT HOW INVESTING WORKS!  It really isn’t.  If you can make 10% per year (after fees, inflation, etc) on your invested money, you are doing splendidly.  So if you have $100,000 invested, you’re bringing in $10,000 per year.

So can you live off $10,000/year?  And do you even have $100,000 to invest?  My guess is you’ve probably answered ‘no’ to at least one of those two questions.  So you’re either going to have to invest more, or live on less, or work longer, or some combination of all these things.  This isn’t meant to discourage you, it’s meant to make tangible the things you’re really going to have to achieve if you want to start living your life on your terms, as we have discussed.  Also, don’t assume you’re gong to earn 10%, this was just a nice round number chosen to demonstrate to you what we’re dealing with here.  The number I assume for myself is 7%, based on the logical advice of Mr. Money Mustache himself, but am also aware that I can earn less (or more) on any given year, and so this number should only be used for longer-term financial planning (i.e. 5 years and more).

So where should I invest my money?  How do I pick stocks?  What if I lose my shirt (and then some)?  Well we’re going to get into all that soon.  Index funds, ETFs, stocks and bonds.  All that fun stuff.  But for now I suggest you wet your whistle and prime yourself with this amazing half-hour summary of how the economy functions by Ray Dalio, author of Principles (2017) and one of the most successful financial investors and hedge-fund managers of all time.  And as always, let me know what you think in the comments!

Ray Dalio – How the Economic Machine Works (YouTube)

 

Check in: November Mid-month

Well, the middle of November is upon us and our American neighbors are getting ready to commence the holiday season with Thanksgiving and people are starting to build their wish lists for Santa and everyone is hustling and bustling to rack up some more debt to tackle in the new year.

So far I have made a tradition of checking in mid-month and end-of-month, probably because my finances and, thus, this blog are front of mind around payday.

So here we are again.  How’s your retirement plan?

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Don’t Eat Breakfast

One way to really tighten up your budget and generate a multitude of other life and money-saving benefits, of course, is to tighten up your diet.  Now overall, what and how much  you eat is the most important thing of all when it comes to meeting your physical and financial goals.  Simply put, if you eat more you will spend more, and if you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.  And vice versa.  That is the crux of it all, simple.  How you get there is up to you really, but here’s a bit on some of my own findings.

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Put Your Pants in the Freezer

We’ve talked about impulse spending, or shopping as entertainment, and how you really need to get a life if that’s something you do too much of (don’t take it personally though, I’ve been there, trust me).  And I find one of the most common form of this kind of shopping is probably for clothing.  Malls are full of clothing stores, and since buying clothing not only makes us feel that we look better (temporarily) and satisfies our well-trained need for the (also temporary) reward of buying something new, they’re all-too-often a place that chips away at our income and savings disproportionately and unnecessarily.

There’s always some new kicks and those pants of slightly different shade than the ones you are wearing, and whether you’re buying a few designer pieces here and there, or are obsessed with owning every shade of $10 plain Wal-Mart T-shirt, sometimes it seems we just have got to have it.  And maybe that’s OK.  But the thing is that we won’t admit that.  We wouldn’t tell our friend that’s with us that we don’t need these new jeans, but are just going to buy them anyway.  No.  Instead we weave a little story for ourselves of which we first convince ourselves so that we can convince those around us if it seems called for.

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Financial Report: It’s Been a While

Man I hate Nickelback.  Why did I do that?

How is everyone doing?  Well I’ve been down here in the desert and the days have been flying by.  But for someone who would like to run a well-written blog one day, I sure haven’t been very active in the last few weeks.  But on the other hand, man have I been living.  I’ve caught some of the best waves of my life, and surfed more than ever before in a 3-week period of time (everyday, usually 4 or more hours).  My point is that I’ve had another great taste of what retirement will be like, and I want more!

I’ve been feeling bad for not attending to some of my pursuits such as writing, but the fact is that surfing is just as or more important to me, and it’s the kind of thing that can happen with a high (or low amount) of frequency during a certain period of time, depending on the what mother nature delivers.

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