Dec 022019
 

Best Bull Market Ever

Stock markets are at record highs. The year to date return of the S&P 500 is 25% – a staggering performance! But of course making money from companies isn’t just about percentages. Otherwise everyone would simply invest in hard liquor. Because where else can you get 40%? ๐Ÿ˜Ž

In 2008 my net worth was $0. But thanks to the strong market performance over the last 11 years I’m finally a legit millionaire! Hurray! ๐Ÿ˜€

I’m currently worth $1,024,500 ๐Ÿ˜€.ย  Apparently only 1% of self-made millionaires become wealthy before the age of 40. So I feel very fortunate to have this experience now. But my journey is far from over. In about 3 years I will be 35 yrs old. By then I hope to realize my ultimate goal of becoming financially free – hence this blog’s name. ๐Ÿ˜€

Every few years I update my financial freedom progress. The last time I fully inspected my finances was in 2017. During that update I calculated my net worth to be $610,000. I guess I should post another update soon to see if I’m still on track.

In terms of which investments got me to where I am, the biggest heavy hitters I have in my portfolio are stocks and real estate. ๐Ÿ™‚ Both asset classes have performed tremendously over the last decade. That’s the wonderful thing about investing. You don’t have to be highly educated or technically skilled. You can simply buy something and wait for it to go up. Then you automatically go along for the ride and watch your money grow. ๐Ÿ˜‰ As a buy-and-hold investor of dividend stocks and real properties I’m able to keep my trading and management fees to a minimum. Here is my current asset allocation breakdown.

Why have investments gone up so much in value since the great recession? It’s primarily thanks to the central banks. Around the world they have quadrupled the money supply in the financial markets from $5 trillion, to over $19 trillion. Apple cannot issue shares via a new IPO, and nobody is making new land out there. So nearly all the newly printed money is chasing after existing, finite resources. The result? Investors win. Investors who use other people’s money to invest win more. And savers lose.

Although my wealth hasn’t changed much month over month, there’s something visceral about that $1 million figure that makes me feel like a proper Bourgeoisie. ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe it’s all in my head. But it feels pretty amazing to have this level of financial security.

However I have to be careful. With great wealth comes great temptations. The average millionaire goes bankrupt at least 3 times, haha. Both Henry Ford and Walt Disney lost all their money and filed for bankruptcy before achieving a more permanent level of success. I hope I can keep the moment going and continue to build up my portfolio. ๐Ÿ˜€ It would be nice to eventually earn a six-figure passive income from my investments.

Liquidโ€™s Financial Update November 2019

*Side Incomes: = $3,200

  • Part time job =$800
  • Freelance = $500
  • Dividends =$1200
  • Interest = $700

*Discretionary Spending: = $2,400

  • Food = $400
  • Miscellaneous = $700
  • Interest expense = $1300

*Net Worth: (ฮ”MoM)

  • Total Assets: = $1,406,600 (+22,100)ย 
  • Cash = $13,200 (+4100)
  • Canadian stocks = $200,500 (+5400)
  • U.S. stocks = $140,500 (+5600)
  • U.K. stocks = $22,700 (+800)
  • Retirement = $143,000 (+5300)
  • Mortgage Funds = $37,700 (+600)
  • P2P Lending = $37,000 (+300)
  • Home = $367,000 (assessed land value)
  • Farms = $445,000
  • Total Debts: = $382,100 (-3,000)
  • Mortgage = $185,600 (-500)
  • Farm Loans = $161,900 (-500)
  • Margin Loans = $34,600 (-200)
  • Line of Credit = 0 (-1800)

*Total Net Worth = $1,024,500 (+$25,100 / +2.5%)
All numbers are in $CDN at 0.75/USD

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Nov 252019
 

investment ideas for 2020

Looking Ahead – What to Expect in the new year

The last decade has been one of the best times for investors of any generation. ๐Ÿ™‚ It didn’t matter if you had money in stock, bonds, or real estate. Almost every major asset class delivered terrific returns on average. But I think 2020 will be a very pivotal year.

The U.S. will hold a presidential election. Stock markets are about to head into the new year at record highs. And there’s a greater than 50% chance Canada will fall into a recession according to Oxford Economics.

The U.S. is even more likely at 64% probability to hit a recession in 2020 according to the New York Fed.

Data seems to indicate consumer spending in North America will almost certainly slow down next year. The U.S. government will spend a buttload of money to desperately prop up the economy. Deficit spending will go through the roof. But the market demand for U.S. bonds won’t be there unless interest rates rise. But rather than let natural market forces drive up interest rates, the Federal Reserve will step in and buy up the newly issued bonds at lower rates. This will likely create some inflation which will be felt in Canada as well.

Protecting Your Net Worth

No matter how we look at the financial markets it’s not hard to see how overvalued most asset classes are. A straightforward way to reduce our exposure to the markets right now is to become more conservative with our investment strategy. If you’re worried about a financial crisis here are some ideas to consider…

  • Emphasize investing new savings into value stocks and dividend stocks rather than growth stocks.
  • Sell some equities and hold onto short term bonds or cash.
  • Stay away from IPOs and ICOs.
  • Find value in alternative investments such as peer to peer lending.
  • Write covered calls or buy some put options.

Any of those methods should help reduce portfolio losses in the event of a stock market correction.

My Strategy for 2020ย 

We can’t predict the future. But there are events we can anticipate ahead of time and be ready to make the correct decision when the time comes. Given what we know so far, I think one of two scenarios will happen next year.

1st scenario: The current course of expanding asset bubbles will accelerate – widening the wealth gap between the haves and have-nots even more. Private and public debts will grow.

2nd scenario: We see a dramatic economic slowdown followed by a recession in the U.S. first, and then probably in Canada. Central banks inject over $100 billion a month of new liquidity into the markets. Public debt grows. Private debt shrinks through paydowns and defaults.

Right now it’s impossible to know which scenario will play out. But I don’t see an in-between scenario happening. This isn’t financial advice or anything, but if I’m right about next year, then here are some investment opportunities to watch out for.

  • Real estate.
  • Silver stocks.
  • Telecom stocks.
  • Investment grade corporate bonds.

If either of the 2 scenarios play out then there will be a lot more debt owed by governments. This will cause inflation, especially if the money makes it into financial markets and trickles down to the consumer level. Inflation is also good for precious metals, and silver appears to be undervalued compared to gold right now. Phone and cable companies should also perform well next year as telecommunications tends to be an inelastic service. Canadian real estate prices have been cooling off since 2018. Meanwhile the TSX/S&P composite index climbed to an all time high last week. Compared to the stock market, the real estate sector seems like a bargain. Personally I will be looking at buying an investment property around the Greater Vancouver area. The expected return on investment for real estate about 7% under current conditions. If I see something I like and the price is reasonable then I will buy it. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Random Useless Fact:

Facebook’s content moderators make about $29,000 per year.

Nov 182019
 

Time + Ownership = Financial Freedom

When financial writer David Bach was just 7 years old his grandma took him to McDonald’s and explained to him that there were 3 types of people in the world: The minimum wage employees working there, the consumers who pay money and eat there, and the owners who aren’t there but can still make money from the restaurant. David’s grandma helped him buy 1 share of McDonald’s, and taught him how to read and follow MCD’s stock chart.

The next time they went to a McDonald’s restaurant she told him, “now you are not just a consumer here, you are also an owner. Every time you eat here you are paying yourself.” It’s a brilliantly simple concept; easy enough for a child to understand. Yet it’s an inspiring and powerful idea. David became hooked on investing. He bought other stocks over time to eventually become a millionaire. ๐Ÿ™‚ From the time he bought his first stock to today in 2019, MCD shares have increased in value by over 250 times! But it didn’t happen overnight. It took decades.

McDonald’s menu in 1973 when David Bach was a kid.

Fortunately anyone can become an owner by investing in established companies like McDonald’s. And the best part is you get to earn all your money while you sleep. ๐Ÿ™‚

It all comes down to saving a percentage of your income, and investing it on a consistent basis. And then simply wait. The longer you wait the more your money will have time to compound and grow exponentially. Although you can schedule to invest every month, or every quarter, studies suggest you should invest as soon as possible to maximize potential returns.

People who try to get rich quick stay broke long.” ~ David Bach

If we understand that financial success requires patience, then investing will appear to be easier and less risky. For example, imagine if 2 investors held 2 different views about buying a house.

Investor 1) I’m afraid prices might drop in the next year or so. ๐Ÿ™ And it’s a rather large investment so I question if now is a good time to be buying.

This mindset makes it difficult to pull the trigger when a good opportunity comes. We act based on what we believe. If we believe prices may fall then of course we will experience more hesitation and concern when buying a house. But let’s look at the second mindset where patience is paramount.

Investor 2) I have the patience to hold this property for at least 7+ years. So after the year 2026, based on macro trends, house prices will probably be much higher than it is now. Most likely rent in the city will be higher as well. Therefore buying a house now and locking in a mortgage balance is probably better than buying a house later and risk taking on an even larger mortgage.

The first person is thinking about the short term, while the other is thinking only long term. The second investor has a better chance of putting his intent into action because his long term perspective provides him with more investment certainty. That’s because it’s hard to know what the market will do next year. But due to inflation and urban densification, it wouldn’t be hard to predict that Vancouver’s home prices will trend upwards over the long run.

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Nov 042019
 

I hope everyone had a good weekend. Many people turned back their clocks 1 hour marking the end of this year’s daylight saving time. But time wasn’t the only thing that fell back. Economic growth in the U.S. pulled back to just 1.9% for the 3rd quarter of 2019, lower than the previous 2 quarters. Last month I wrote about anticipating this GDP number, and warned that if it continues to fall (which it did) then we may be close to a U.S recession. The Canadian economy is also in trouble, managing to eke out a 0.1% gain in the latest month.

Yet somehow the U.S. stock market reached an all time high at the end of October. Senior citizens must be thrilled to see their retirement funds performing so well. ๐Ÿ˜€

So economic output is slowing down, but investors have never been more optimistic – pushing stocks to record highs. How does this happen? It’s basically the result of the U.S. Central Bank’s monetary policy. In late October the Fed lowered interest rates again, trying to stimulate the overall economy. However, all it did was push investors to buy stocks over bonds because bonds now pay lower interest/returns. But a higher company stock price doesn’t improve business hiring, productivity, or employee salaries. The average American worker doesn’t see any direct benefit from the Fed’s monetary stimulus. Only Wall St. does.

The result is a diverging economic reality between two worlds; the working class that’s just one paycheck away from financial ruin, and the investing class who continues to see growing asset prices. Over the last 10 years, the S&P 500 gave investors about 13% annualized return. So the fact is if someone put $1,000 into a low cost index fund in October 2009, then today he would have $3,400 – assuming he reinvested the dividends. Wow. And all this required zero effort on the investor’s part. Amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚

So the lesson here is simple. Focus on investing your savings, and be patient. Investing is like cooking a juicy steak; the less you touch it the better. Working hard at a job can only get you so far. But the real secret to financial success is to leverage the Central Bank’s policies, and invest in a diversified portfolio to build wealth the easy way. ๐Ÿ™‚

Although October was a good month for stocks, I had a major expense (property tax payment for my farms) that stifled my savings. In the end, I was able to grow my wealth by $8,300 for the month. Not bad, but I didn’t reach the $1 million net worth milestone I was aiming for. Oh well. Better luck in November. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Liquidโ€™s Financialย Update

*Side Incomes: = $5,400

  • Part time job =$600
  • Freelance = $400
  • Dividends =$1200
  • Interest = $500
  • Farm rent = $2,700

*Discretionary Spending: = $3,700

  • Food = $300
  • Miscellaneous = $2,100
  • Interest expense = $1300

*Net Worth: (ฮ”MoM)

  • Total Assets: = $1,384,500 (+7,000)
  • Cash = $9,100 (+300)
  • Canadian stocks = $195,100 (+2400)
  • U.S. stocks = $134,900 (+1400)
  • U.K. stocks = $21,900 (+500)
  • Retirement = $137,700 (+1900)
  • Mortgage Funds = $37,100 (+200)
  • P2P Lending = $36,700 (+300)
  • Home = $367,000 (assessed land value)
  • Farms = $445,000
  • Total Debts: = $385,100 (-1,300)
  • Mortgage = $186,100 (-400)
  • Farm Loans = $162,400 (-500)
  • Margin Loans = $34,800 (-200)
  • Line of Credit = $1,800 (-200)

*Total Net Worth = $999,400 (+$8,300 / +0.8%)
All numbers are in $CDN at 0.76/USD

This will probably be the last year I pay property tax for my farmland. I have been in contact with a realtor in Saskatchewan, and have already instructed him to list both my farms for sale. ๐Ÿ™‚

Agricultural land has not been immune to the wider real estate slow down across the country. But there does seem to be some interest in my farms so far. In terms of market pricing, my realtor says I can probably expect to sell my farmland for about $446,000 in 2019. That’s pretty close to the farmland value I’ve already been using to calculate my monthly net worth so I will stick with my existing number for now.

Farmland values have had a great run in Canada, but slowing economic growth, trade barriers, and changing local conditions suggest to me that it’s time to reduce my exposure to Canadian farmland.

 

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Random Useless Fact:

Oct 212019
 

Investing is a lot like dating. Low confidence can keep you out of the market. A good way to gain confidence is to learn from those with experience. ๐Ÿ™‚

When you do an internet search for “famous investors” you might see a list of highly experienced individuals. Some are dead. Most are alive. But despite being from different backgrounds, all the investors from the search result appear to have one thing in common.

None of them are wearing hats. A piece of headwear can tell a lot about someone’s personality. However, there is one famous investor that didn’t come up in my search results but does like to wear hats: and that’s Hetty Green. There aren’t a lot of photos of her because she died in 1916, but she had an incredible investment career. Here are five lessons we can learn from Hetty.

 

1. Start early

Wearing hats wasn’t the only trait that differentiated Hetty from other world class investors. With her grandfather’s encouragement Hetty had learned to manage her family’s financial accounts when she was just 13 years old. Born into the Quaker family (yes, the cereal name) Hetty was raised with conservative financial principles that would stay with her for life. The world was much simpler back in the days before Instagram and electric scooters. But while other kids were playing hopscotch outside, Hetty was busy reading financial papers and stock reports. ๐Ÿ™‚

2. Practice delayed gratification

When her father bought her brand new clothes, Ms. Green sold her new wardrobe and purchased government bonds with the money instead. She eventually turned an inherited sum of $6 million into $100 million by 1916, which is the equivalent of $2.3 billion in todayโ€™s climate thanks to inflation.

3. Have an independent mindset and don’t follow the crowd

Hetty followed a contrarian investing strategy where she bought stocks and bonds when the market was full of pessimistic sentiment. She also had a knack for snapping up cheap real estate deals and trading railroad companies. In her own words she told the New York Times in 1905, “I believe in getting in at the bottom and out at the top. I like to buy railroad stocks or mortgage bonds. When I see a good thing going cheap because nobody wants it, I buy a lot of it and tuck it away. I keep them until they go up and people are anxious to buy. That is, I believe, the secret of all successful business.โ€ She showed off this strategy a couple years later in 1907. After deciding that the market was overvalued, Hetty called in all her loans. Then, when the market crashed, she swooped in and bought them again at the lows. This line of thinking is very similar to Warren Buffett’s investment advice about being “fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”

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