Liquid Independence

Liquid is the main editor of the Freedom 35 Blog.

Aug 292016
 

Being Mindful With Spending

Mindful spending is when we only buy something that will create a net benefit to our well being, in proportion to its relative cost. The idea here is to spend money with purpose! 😀 This will reduce waste, maximize economic utility, and give us the most bang for our buck, so-to-speak. 🙂

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In practice, all we need to remember are 3 simple questions when contemplating a new purchase.

  1. Why do I want this?
  2. What are the positive and negative effects this product or service will have on me, whether they be physical, practical, emotional, or spiritual?
  3. Assuming the answer to #2 has a net positive benefit, how much am I willing to pay for this?

That’s pretty much it. We can use this simple application every time we want to buy food, furniture, cars, investments, a swedish massage, real estate, and even an education. This literally works for anything that has monetary value.

Let’s take a look at how we might answer those 3 questions in real life cases below: Since mindful spending is based on individual preferences I will only be using myself in the following examples as I can’t speak for anyone else.

  • Should I buy a Nikon D5 camera?
    1) I want to take pretty photos just for fun.
    2) Helps me learn to become a better photographer. Fun to play with a new camera.
    3) $100 because I’ll probably take the camera out with me a few times, get bored with it, and never use it again.
    So in this case, I would not buy the camera since it costs thousands of dollars.
  • Should I go back to school?
    1) To increase my earning potential.
    2) Spend 2 to 4 years in full-time education. Estimated income out of school is 5% to 10% higher than now. Loss of income during time in school.
    3) (-$70,000) because after accounting for both benefits and opportunity costs of going back to school, I would lose $70,000 in the long run.
    So in this case, it’s not worth it at all. Even if I received full scholarship to attend art school for free I still wouldn’t do it.
  • Should I subscribe to Netflix?
    1) I enjoy watching its original programming.
    2) Provides entertainment value. On demand and no commercials. Uses up a lot of my limited internet bandwidth.
    3) $40/month, because for the enjoyment I get out of the service I would gladly pay $2 per hour of view time, and I watch at least 20 hours of Netflix a month.
    So in this case, I would and actually do have a Netflix subscription already since it’s only $10/month, which is cheaper than what I’m willing to pay for.

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Aug 252016
 

Stepping into the Venture Capital Market

The stock market has been so boring lately! According to the Wall Street Journal, the last 30 days have been the “least volatile of any 30-day period in more than two decades.” But luckily stocks aren’t the only type of investments out there. 😀 Remember earlier this month I wrote about how to make money in private businesses? Well, one thing lead to another and now I am the proud owner of some equity in a growing business. It’s a small online company based out of California. It needs funding to grow and I’m looking for investment returns, so here we are. 🙂

Goodness gracious me. This means I’m officially an angel investor now! 😇 *plays heavenly music*

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In today’s post I’ll talk about my new business investment, my decision making process, the due diligence involved, how much money I put in, and potential risks. But unlike a publicly traded stock, I cannot discuss details about this company’s financial situation since certain information isn’t publicly available.

Note: To keep things simple, all $ figures in today’s post will refer to U.S. dollars unless otherwise stated.

Tune into the Music 

Private equity can come in the form of investing in a local bakery, buying an established franchise, or equity crowdfunding via an online broker. I went with the crowdfunding method because it’s quick and easy, haha. 😀

Once I decided to put some money into venture capital I looked around for opportunities in this space. One particular company that caught my attention was 8tracks.com, which is a bit like Spotify. It’s an internet radio and social networking website revolving around the concept of streaming user-curated playlists consisting of at least 8 tracks, hence the name. 🙂 Users create free accounts and can either browse the site and listen to other user-created mixes, or they can create their own mixes. 8tracks sees itself as Pandora’s younger, cooler sister, haha.

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Aug 222016
 

Falling Victim

The pharaohs of ancient Egypt created the first pyramid schemes. 😆 But since then these schemes have evolved to become more elaborate. The most recent example has taken shape in the form of a Gifting Circle, which specifically targets affluent women. According to the Better Business Bureau, a consumer watchdog, the scam works by inviting women to join wine parties and luring them in with the promise of a $40,000 payout if they invest just $5,000 themselves and recruit their friends. Organizers at the party claim to create “abundance and spiritual healing” for anyone who signs up. 😇

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Personally I thought spirituality was about self development and discovering meaning from within. I didn’t realize it could be bought with money, lol. But I am certainly no expert on the subject. 😌

Evan Kelly, an advisor for BBB Mainland B.C., says that since $5,000 is somewhat prohibitive, this scheme tends to go after wealthy women and their circle of friends. “After all, a friend asked you to join. It couldn’t possibly be a scam, right?” Kelly says. But eventually the pyramid collapses under its own weight and members on the bottom lose thousands.

So if you ever get invited to a party that might be held under false pretense then enjoy yourself and drink responsibly. 🙂 But please DO NOT sign up for any programs they want you to join, especially if it involves recruiting more of your friends.

Here are some tips from the Better Business Bureau for avoiding potential scams such as this.

  • Do your own independent research and be skeptical.
  • If there’s no actual product or service being offered, question how it makes money?
  • Be careful of investments that promise low risk and high returns.

So the lesson here is simple: Money can’t always buy brains. However, brains will almost certainly make us more money. 😀 To improve our financial literacy, we can take this online quiz I recently stumbled across. It contains 6 short questions related to personal finance and should help us make better money decisions. Feel free to take the quiz here and see if you can ace it on your first try. 😉 To put things into perspective, the national average score in the U.S. is 3.16. Hmm. That seems kind of low to me.

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Random Useless Fact:

A polar bear’s fur is not white. Each hair is a clear hollow tube. The bear looks white because of the way its hairs reflect the sunlight.

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Aug 182016
 

Early Retirement 

For professional skiers the best time to retire is when they start to go downhill. 😆 But what about the rest of us? Well for most people the question isn’t at what age we should retire, it’s at what income. 😉 In all the stories I’ve read about people who have retired early, they all seem to have a clear and consistent focus to grow their wealth so that it can provide them with enough passive income to sustain their lifestyles forever. This can be done through a number of ways simultaneously such as reducing living expenses, increasing income, and making high investment returns. 🙂

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I recently read a CNBC article that featured a couple, Carl and Mindy, who retired in their early 40s with a million dollars. And they did it pretty much the same way as most other early retirees.

In 2012 the husband-wife duo with 2 kids already had $570,000 saved up. But they were inspired to retire early so they set a clear goal to build a portfolio of $1 million and no debt. And earlier this year in 2016, they have accomplished their dream. 🙂

The CNBC article suggests that “anyone can do the same — and you don’t have to be an investment banker raking in millions. All it takes is smart decisions along with intelligent saving and investing.

Here are some steps the couple took to reach their financial goals.

  • Track spending – “My wife and I wrote all of our expenses in a book,” says the husband.
  • Live in an affordable location –  The couple resides in a low-cost area in Colorado, and lives on $2,000 a month for the whole family. They mention this would not be possible in San Francisco or Manhattan.
  • Cut bills – “I learned that you don’t need a lot of money,” said the wife. “My quality of life has not changed since we became laser-focused on cutting out our expenses. I don’t need the cable TV. I don’t need a super-expensive phone plan. I don’t miss all this stuff because it didn’t really add to my life,” she said.
  • Invest in appreciating assets – The couple bought a $176,000 fixer upper home that they estimate is now worth over $400,000. They also I bought 2,000 shares at Facebook at $30 a share which is now worth around $120 a share!
  • Consistent savings – They’ve continuously put away $2,000 per month into their investment portfolio.

Continue reading »

Aug 152016
 

Asset Allocation for the Wealthy

I don’t always recognize good investment opportunities when I see them. But I do know that we should never invest in funerals… because it’s a dying industry. 😆 But when I run out of investment ideas I usually turn to the wealthy.

I think it’s extremely important to follow what rich people do. It gives us insight about financial opportunities that we should be aware of. People with extremely high net worths tend to have either a natural knack for managing money, or are at least smart enough to hire the best advisors to invest on their behalf. Of course wealthy people don’t make the best investment decisions all the time, but their historical performance is consistently higher than the average Joe, which is how the rich continues to stay rich. 🙂

One way to track the “smart money” is to follow the quarterly member surveys from Tiger 21, an exclusive network of high net worth investors. To get into this private club all you need is to have a minimum net worth of $10 million. Easy right? 😛 This confidential and anonymous survey asks members about where they have their net worths allocated.

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Almost all participants are either self made investors or entrepreneurs with a good eye for business trends. With hundreds of members spread across North America, the results of the survey should represent a fairly accurate cross section of investment opinions from some of the most sophisticated millionaires and billionaires in the world. So what have the wealthy been doing during the last year? For the most part they have decreased their exposure to real estate and increased investments in private businesses. 🙂

Below we can compare the Tiger 21 survey results from the first quarter of last year with the same quarter this year.

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