Sep 102018
 

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett recently celebrated his 88th birthday and told CNBC in an interview that he thinks stocks are still more attractive than bonds or real estate. In fact his company Berkshire Hathaway recently picked up some more shares of Apple Inc (AAPL) making it the largest position in the holding company.

The value of BRK.A shares increased by an astonishing 1,000,000% between December 1964 and December 2015. Meanwhile the S&P 500 market index increased by only 2,300% during that time. This is a testament to the will and dedication by Buffett & his team to create wealth for shareholders. I suppose you can say that if Berkshire has a will, Berkshire Hathaway. 😎

One thing to remember when investing is to keep it simple. You don’t have to be a genius to be good at it. 🙂

When we keep track of something it tends to grow. Building up investment experience is no different. That’s why every investor needs to track their investment decisions. This is going back to basics but it’s crucial to becoming better investors.

Investment Tracking 

This can be done by creating a simple table or spreadsheet like the following, and updating it over time. You can think of this like an investment journal. 🙂 I will demonstrate using the 2 new companies I blogged about purchasing earlier this year.

InvestmentTypeActionReasons for decisionDateExit plan
  • Parkland Fuel Corp (PKI.TO)
StockBuy 100 shares
  • Large network of retailers
  • Stable dividend yield (with growth)
  • Recession resistant
01/02/18Hold into retirement
  • Automotive Properties (APR.UN)
REITBuy 190 units
  • High 7% dividend yield
  • Relatively low payout ratio (60%)
  • Canadians love to buy cars
01/02/18Hold into retirement

 

Here are some additional columns we can add to track our investment decisions even more closely:

  • Timeline horizon (how long we plan to hold something)
  • Current market value of said investment
  • How to measure the success or failure of our decision
  • Any concerns that go against our final decision
  • Does the original reason for buying a stock still apply in the present day
  • What process did we use to evaluate the investment, eg: P/E ratio, Graham formula, or analyst predictions

No matter how good we are at evaluating investments, we’re eventually going to be wrong. Sometimes we may be wrong due to unpreventable reasons. But there are many factors that we can control, such as our own psychology and behavior.

Keeping a detailed investment journal of our decisions is the best way to remind us in the future of the feelings we had at that time to avoid making the same mistakes again. We’ll understand why we made the choices we did, whether or not it was worth it, the process behind our decisions, which strategies worked and which didn’t, and do our best to hopefully replicate past successes. 🙂 Hindsight is 20/20, but only if we remember how we thought and what we did in the past that lead to the current moment.

 

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Random Useless Fact:

What it’s like having a motorcycle.

Aug 292018
 

According to a recent Northwestern Mutual study, nearly 1 out of 3 Americans have less than $5,000 saved for retirement. The average retirement savings for all Americans is $84,821. That’s a far cry from enough. Experts typically recommend building at least $1 million in savings by retirement. So it doesn’t look good for the average American. And we aren’t doing much better up here. A CIBC poll shows that 32% of Canadians between 45 and 64 have nothing saved for retirement. 😮

The 3 pillars of retirement savings

I recently finished reading a book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, which explains that we can’t possibly care about everything in our lives because that would be too exhausting. So we have to choose what’s actually worth giving a hoot about. For those who are having trouble saving for retirement the best way to get ahead is to focus on a few things that will make a substantial difference. 😀

Below are 3 important factors that are absolutely the mutt’s nuts to building up a retirement nest egg.

Income

This is the number one tool to accumulating wealth. You can’t have savings if you never have income. Prioritize finding new ways to make additional income. This could be through a side job. Investment income is another method that requires patiences but ultimately has extremely lucrative results. For example this is what consistently investing in dividend growth stocks for 10 years can do in a bull market. 🙂

Another strategy that usually gives a lot of mileage is to constantly apply for new jobs. Every month make it a goal to send your resume to a few different companies, and follow up with any interviews or feedback you get. The worst case is you decline a job offer with a lower salary than what you’re currently earning. But if you are offered a better compensation package then you’ll receive an immediate raise in your career, either by joining the new company, or negotiating a higher salary with your current employer. 😉

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Apr 122018
 

The ancient philosopher Seneca once said that, “luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” In other words, the more prepared we are the more chances we’ll have to take advantage of opportunities when they come our way. I believe this is true in many ways. But luck is probably a little more complicated than that.

I’ve recently come across a formula created by author Darren Hardy which breaks down luck into all its individual components. According to Hardy, anyone can become more lucky by focusing on this formula. 🙂

The Formula for Getting Lucky

Preparation + Attitude + Opportunity + Action = Getting Lucky

  • Preparation is all about personal growth – improving our skills, knowledge, expertise, and relationships – so we have the tools to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.
  • Having the right attitude or mindset is also important. Hardy says that, we can’t see what we don’t look for, and we can’t look for what we don’t believe in. Billionaire Richard Branson once said, “we are all lucky. If you live in a free society, you are lucky. Luck surrounds us every day; we are constantly having lucky things happen to us. I have not been any more lucky or unlucky than anyone else. The difference is when luck came my way, I took advantage of it.
  • Opportunity is the only part of the formula that we cannot control. Opportunity is when something positive happens that we didn’t plan for. The good news is that fortune comes to us everyday in many different ways, as Richard Branson said.
  • The last part of the getting lucky equation is taking action, or doing something about the situation that is presented to us. This is what separates self made millionaires from the average middle class citizen.

I can vouch for Hardy’s formula because I have seen it work for me. 🙂 I have been very lucky when it comes to my finances. Here are some moments from past blog posts where I expressed my acknowledgement and appreciation for my luck.

I always had a feeling that I was luckier than most people when it came to personal finance and wealth building. But I couldn’t figure out the cause before. Seeing the breakdown of Hardy’s luck formula really makes it clear. I was engineering my own luck all this time but just wasn’t aware of it until now, lol. I think one thing I can do to improve my luck even more is to focus on improving my preparation. 😀 We are surrounded by luck everyday if we look for it. I hope something lucky happened to you recently. 😉

 

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Random Useless Fact

There’s something not quite right with this family tree.

Mar 202018
 

Most stock market investors will find it nerve-racking to see their portfolios drop by 50% or more. But a large stock market crash is usually beneficial for our long term finances and we should welcome a bear market sooner rather than later or even not at all. 😀

How an early stock market crash creates more wealth

During a stock market correction, all the new money we invest will be used to purchase assets at cheaper levels. 🙂 These investments can have more time to compound and grow.

Even if we somehow could avoid a bear market for the next 30 years, [our] retirement wealth would likely be substantially better if we instead experienced an immediate bear market. ~Mark Hulbert

Most people my age will probably retire around 60 years old. That gives us about 30 more years to save for retirement. I found a chart below, courtesy of Mark Hulbert from MarketWatch that shows how the timing of a stock market crash affects the value of a retirement portfolio. It assumes a constant annual rate of return for 30 years, except a brief period where the stock market crashes similar to what happened in the 2007/2008 global financial crisis.

The red bar at the far left of the graph represents the portfolio’s value at the end of 30 years if a stock market crash happens right now in 2018. The far right is when it happens near the end of the 30 year period. In all cases plotted on the graph, the average annualized return for the 30 year period is the same, which is 5.9%. The only difference is when that market correction occurred along the way. 😉

As we can clearly see, our portfolio’s value 30 years from now will be highest ($4.3 million) if a downturn happens immediately, and lowest ($1.9 million) if it happens right before we retire. Wow! We will have $2.4 million more if a major bear market breaks out now, rather than later, even when the overall annualized investment return is the same. That’s a huge difference. 🙂

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Mar 142018
 

A revolving line of credit is a very useful tool. It can be used to pay down higher interest credit card debts, cover business expenses, or pay regular household bills. To use a line of credit (LOC) properly we should understand how it works, and how the interest is calculated.

At the time of set up a new LOC account will start with a balance of $0. Unlike a mortgage, car loan, or other amortized loan, the interest cost on a LOC is only calculated based on the amount of outstanding balance we use. This means if we don’t use the LOC we don’t pay any interest. 🙂

Interest Calculation

The interest rate on a LOC will typically range from 3% to 12% depending on the borrower’s credit history and their relationship with their banks. Interest is calculated on a daily basis on the amount of principal balance. For example, let’s say we borrow $1,000 on March 1st. Then on March 10th we pay down half of the debt, $500, and don’t do anything else for the rest of the month. In this case interest will be charged on the $1,000 for 10 days, and on $500 for the remaining 21 days of March. The interest amount will be accumulated and charged at the end of every month.

Using 5% interest rate as an example, we can calculate the cost of borrowing in the example above.

Interest cost from March 1st to March 10th = 0.05 x ($1000)*(10/365) = $1.37
Interest cost from March 11th to March 31st = 0.05 x ($500)*(21/365) = $1.44

We add the two amounts together to get $2.81. This is how much interest will be charged for the month of March. If we pay down the remaining $500 principal, and $2.81 interest balance on March 31st and do not borrow anymore, then there will be no interest charges in April.

Different Ways to Use LOCs

Since LOCs often have lower interest rates than credit cards we can transfer balance from a LOC to a credit card to save on interest costs. I also like to use my LOCs for emergency liquidity to pounce on a time sensitive investment opportunity or to cover a major car repair. I have also used a LOC in the past to pay down my student loans which was at a higher interest rate.

LOCs can be accessed through online banking. We can use it pay bills online, or send Interac e-Transfers. We can even order cheque books for our LOC accounts so we can write cheques to anyone. My regular chequing account only allows up to 10 free withdrawals every month. So sometimes I would use my LOC to cover some bill payments if I don’t want to exceed my chequing account limit. 😀

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