Feb 162017
 

A survey done a few years ago found that 34% of people rely on winning the lottery as a legitimate retirement plan. 😐 #smh. I’m no financial expert, but when it comes to aggressively planning for one’s retirement, playing the lottery more frequently probably isn’t the best strategy.

But of course some people can get very lucky, like Jane Park, who lives in the U.K. When she was 17 years old she bought her first lottery ticket and won the jackpot of £1 million. That’s roughly CAD $1.6 million, or USD $1.2 million. What did she do with her new found wealth? First, she spent £4,500 on a boob job. 😄 Then she purchased some properties, a Louis Vuitton handbag, and a chihuahua, because why not? 🙄

But it appears her lucky situation had unintentional consequences. At 21 years old today, Jane explains that winning the lottery has actually made her sick. That is to say, “sick of shopping for designer goodies.” She is also “struggling to find a genuine boyfriend who isn’t after her money.” Jane says that despite her wealth people don’t seem to understand her stress of being a millionaire. She says despite her material possessions her life feels “empty and without purpose.” Damn. Poor girl.

“I thought it would make it ten times better but it’s made it ten times worse. I wish I had no money most days. I say to myself, ‘My life would be so much easier if I hadn’t won.’” ~ Jane Park

But don’t feel too sorry for her just yet. Jane is currently thinking about suing the lottery company for giving her the money and ruining her life. She claims that the company should not be selling lottery tickets to 17 year olds because someone at that age can’t handle so much money. Again, I’m no expert. But if money caused her to feel empty and without purpose in the first place, then I’m not sure suing for more money is going to help her situation. 😄

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Random Useless Fact:

There was record snowfall this year in parts of Canada

This is what Vancouver looked like a week ago.

Feb 132017
 

Some psychologists believe that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Whether this is accurate or not, the truth is we are influenced by everyone around us to some degree. This is why it’s important to surround ourselves with positive and highly productive people. Our environment should work for our success, not against it. 🙂

It’s not that we should trivialize or avoid negative people. We can treat everyone with the respect they deserve. But it would be beneficial to us if we make a conscious effort to spend more time with successful people. For example, to reach my goal of becoming independently wealthy I like to surround myself with friends who have the following personality traits.

  • They can see the big picture.
  • They don’t make excuses and know it’s up to themselves to make things better if it’s important enough to them.
  • They have or plan to have lots of resources, ie: wealth.
  • They are optimistic about the future.
  • They are curious about the world.

This is just my personal list I’ve thrown together. But there are many different definitions for what a high quality or successful person is. Of course if you work in the music industry, then you should surround yourself with “creative” people. We should also be aware of our biases. Being surrounded with too many “like minded” friends may trap us in an echo chamber of similar opinions. Doing so could make it difficult for us to expand our knowledge.

Unfortunately we can’t change the cards we’ve been dealt. But we can make the most out of our situations by developing the best environment for us to thrive. Part of this means choosing the right people to surround ourselves with. We can’t control what other people think, but we can manage our social circle, and choose who to hang out with. 🙂

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Random Useless Fact:

Even though the children below are born from different parents, they are actually siblings, genetically speaking.

 

Feb 092017
 

I recently watched an HBO documentary called “Becoming Warren Buffett,” which features the life of the man himself. The show gives viewers an extensive look at Buffett’s achievements, struggles, and challenges with his career, and probably more importantly, with his personal relationships.

Buffett started making money at a young age selling gum door to door, and delivering newspapers. He began trading stocks in his early teens and started college when he was only 16 years old. Today everyone knows him as the investment guru who is currently worth about US $72 billion, which makes him the second richest person in the world, right behind his close friend, William. 🙂

becoming warren buffett review

The documentary covers his family background and personal relationships. It felt like I was watching an honest biography about Warren. For the first time ever I got an inside look at the day to day events and lifestyle choices of Warren Buffett. It has been a real eye opener! For example on his way to work in the morning, he often stops by a McDonald’s and orders a Sausage McMuffin.

Doh! :/ No wonder I’m not rich yet. This whole time I’ve been ordering the Bacon ‘N Egg Bagel like a peasant. If only I had known his secret earlier. 😛 Below are some other important lessons I learned from watching “Becoming Warren Buffett.”

  • Live close to work. It takes Warren only 5 minutes to drive to his office everyday. And he’s been taking the same route for 54 years! Not wasting much time on commuting is why he gets so much done.
  • Be smart. Warren admits that he’s wired in a way that gives him an advantage over others when it comes to understanding businesses. He was always good with numbers starting at a young age and learning about the financial markets comes easily to him. Unfortunately for some, intelligence is largely genetic.
  • Read a lot. Every day Warren goes to work and reads books, newspapers, financial reports, or various other material for 5 to 6 hours.
  • Have role models in your life. In the documentary Warren said, “the best gift I was ever given was to have the father that I had when I was born.
  • Develop your own inner scorecard. Don’t let other people’s standards and expectations define who you are or what makes you succeed or fail.
  • Learn from people you trust. Business partner Charlie Munger helped Warren realize that in order to build immense fortune, it’s better to look for great businesses at reasonable prices rather than okay businesses at cheap prices.
  • Develop focus. Warren believes this is the most important quality to have if you want to be successful.
  • Have patience. The biggest factor to making money is time. Warren says you don’t have to be smart to become wealthy. You just have to be patient. 🙂

If we keep in mind these simple guidelines from Warren then I’m sure his wisdom will have an impact on our lives. Depending on different sources, Warren appears to have either an ISTJ or INTJ personality type. This mean he is a rational planner who likes to keep to himself most of the time. As an INTJ myself I understand what it’s like to live inside one’s own head sometimes. It’s probably why I can relate to his investment philosophy. 🙂

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Random Useless Fact:

Feb 062017
 

Index investing is a great way to build long term wealth. It’s simple to implement, convenient, and you are guaranteed to make the same returns as the market, minus any fees. But is it right for everyone?

Taking a closer look at Index Investing

How Indexes Are Managed

There’s a common theory that retail investors shouldn’t try to beat the market since it’s almost impossible to do over time. But I’m not sure this is true. The “index” isn’t the holy grail of stock selection. Some folks from the S&P Index Committee sit in a room and decide which stocks to include in their index based on a set of criteria with arbitrary measurements. It would be preferable if prominent investors such as Ray Dalio or Warren Buffett were on this committee, but they aren’t. Lol.

The S&P/TSX Composite index is made up of 250 stocks, chosen by the committee. It’s intriguing how only 250 stocks are selected out of the possible 1500+ on the entire Canadian stock market. The methodology for selecting stocks to be included in an index contains guidelines for minimum weight in the market, price per share, market cap, and sufficient liquidity requirements. The index is reviewed quarterly and all Index Securities that, in the opinion of the Index Committee, do not meet certain requirements are removed. And for the S&P 500 stock market index in the United States, anywhere from 25 to 50 changes are made every year. It’s basically a handful of people getting paid to actively manage a list of stocks that they believe represents the overall equity market.

The Paradox of Index Investing

From what I’ve heard, the whole idea of index investing is to match the market’s performance using a passive methodology. But if picking individual stocks will underperform the market most of the time, according to the mainstream, then how can index investing work if it’s based on a managed list of stocks that is updated every quarter based on the decisions of some individuals on Wall Street? Why are they more qualified to pick stocks for the index than let’s say, personal finance bloggers? 😀

I don’t think it would be hard for a handful of competent value and dividend investors to get together, create their own list of 250 stocks, and then beat the S&P/TSX Composite index. Last year Nelson from Financial Uproar hosted a stock picking contest for personal finance bloggers. There were 14 participants, including myself. Our average investment return for 2016 was 30%. We beat all the major indexes in both Canada and the U.S. Since an index is meant to represent the average of the stock market, then all we had to do to beat the market was to just be better than average. 😉 Easy peasy.

Continue reading »

Feb 022017
 

How High Can the Dow Go?

The Dow rose from 7,000 to 20,000 points over the last 8 years. And that doesn’t even account for the dividend payments. By using financial leverage my portfolio managed to outperform the market every year since I started buying stocks in 2009. 🙂 Borrowing to invest is risky. But if I continue to maintain a diversified portfolio of real estate, stocks, and fixed income investments, then it is very likely that my assets will grow overall in value over time. So as long as I can borrow money cheaply I will continue use leverage. It’s all about expected market return vs the cost to borrow. In my previous post from last year I explained how rich people create wealth. Using other people’s money to enhance investment gains proves to be a very effective method. I currently have about $50,000 of available funds remaining before I risk getting a margin call. This gives me quite a large safety cushion. As long as I keep an eye on this number I should be able to withstand the market cycles.

Breaking the 20,000 barrier was a huge milestone for stock investors. But can the Dow Jones continue to climb even higher? The answer may be found in American football. 🙂 Believe it or not the outcome of the Super Bowl game this weekend could have an impact on the stock market’s performance for the remainder of 2017. This idea is known as the “Super Bowl Predictor.” The predictor states that if an original NFL team wins the Super Bowl, then the Dow index will increase over the next year. Otherwise, the stock market will fall. So far this indicator had been bang on every year since 2008, except for one time. So if we want the Dow to hit 20,000 again and continue to grow this year, we better hope the Atlanta Falcons win this weekend. 😀

Anyway, since equity valuations and price/earnings ratios appear to be worryingly high, I decided it’s time to be more cautious with my money. So as I see the growing risk of a bubble forming, I have turned my attention towards alternative investments that do not correlate with the stock market. That’s why today I present a new addition to my asset column.

It’s P2P lending! 😀 Hurray! This makes a total of 10 different asset types I own. And most of them produce a stream of passive income for me! 🙂

Liquid’s Financial Update

*Side Incomes:

  • Part-Time = $900
  • Freelance = $800
  • Dividends = $800
  • Interest = $600
*Discretionary Spending:
  • Fun = $200
  • Debt Interest = $1200

*Net Worth: (MoM)16-12-networthiq_chart-nov

  • Assets: = $1,083,200 total (+33,200)
  • Cash = $1,100 (-700)
  • Canadian stocks = $139,200 (+4100)
  • U.S. stocks = $85,900 (+2700)
  • U.K. stocks = $18,600
  • RRSP = $75,000 (-100)
  • Mortgage Funds = $30,400 (+200)
  • Peer-to-Peer Lending = $20,000 (new!)
  • SolarShare Bonds = $10,000
  • Home = $270,000 (+7000)
  • Farms = $433,000
  • Debts: = $496,200 total (+16,700)
  • Mortgage = $185,200 (-300)
  • Farm Loans = $191,400 (-400)
  • Margin Loans = $59,300 (+300)
  • TD Line of Credit = $16,000  (-700)
  • CIBC Line of Credit = $27,500 (+18,000)
  • HELOC = $16,800 (-200)

*December Total Net Worth = $587,000 (+$16,500 / +2.9%)
All numbers above are in $CDN. 

January has traditionally been a very positive month for my net worth, and this year is no different. This is thanks to the phenomenon called the new year’s bump. I used the average inflation rate of 1.6% to increase my home’s value and rounded the number to $270,000, which is $7,000 higher than the previous year. Stock markets held up well this January, despite a slight pull back over the last couple of trading days.

I will write more about my new venture into the world of peer-to-peer lending in a future post. But it’s basically a fixed income investment in the form of debt financing. Compared to stock market, P2P investments have a low correlation with stocks and are less volatile. However, this doesn’t mean they’re less risky. I invested $20,000 to start. $2,000 came from personal savings, while the remaining $18,000 was borrowed, which is why both my asset and debt have grown this month. I plan to slowly pay down the new debt while I wait patiently for my new asset to grow. This is the same basic strategy I used for all my leveraged investments in the past. 😉

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Random Useless Fact:

It can be quite difficult to tell if a tiger is pregnant, or just fat.