Jun 042013
 

The world of personal finance can be so complex that it cannot be accurately represented with any rules or strict guidelines. This is why it’s so hard to give financial advice. Unless we know absolutely everything about someone else’s finances and personality, it’s nearly impossible to give them proper guidance and tell them what they need (not want) to hear. We can be as honest as humanly possible with our sincerest suggestions, but to think that we know what’s best for them especially if we haven’t been in their shoes, may be a bit vain. So I believe there is simply no such thing as universal rules when it comes to financial management. Every time we come across one of those “Top 10 Rules to investing,” or “…to get out of debt,” or “…to plan for retirement,” or whatever else, we must look at it as only rough guidelines, and nothing more :)

The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.  ~George Bernard Shaw

Rules are meant to be broken anyway. I break generally accepted personal finance “rules” all the time, like choosing to pay high bank fees instead of keeping the minimum balance in my account, or buying a car when I still had student loans, or using consumer debt to buy a $2,250 souvenir, or not having an emergency fund, or agreeing to purchase a property when I have no savings. Lately I decided to carry a $5,000 credit card balance, which is arguable another no no in the personal finance community, except I think I can be forgiven this time because my interest rate is only 1.9 percent :D

13_06_transferbalancejpg, break all the rules, credit card balance transfer

I initially became interest in this idea from the Dividend Girl. She’s a pro at doing credit card balance transfers. I thought why not give it a try myself. Once in awhile I get these cheques from my credit card lender, TD. I can use them to spend on anything I wish. This was my last chance to get in on the deal because after this month they will not be sending out any more of these blank cheques :*(  With no time to lose I wrote $5,000 on one addressed to myself :) and deposited it into my CIBC account. This works out perfectly because I need money for my farmland downpayment so by happenstance I’m now $5,000 closer to buying that property :D There IS a 1% transfer fee, so I paid $50 for this service but I think it’s worth it in the end :)

Following mainstream rules like credit card debt is bad, but student loan debt is good, will limit our options to raise capital and create wealth. By being more agnostic to what others say and focusing on our own situations we can achieve so much more :D There’s no such thing as rules, only suggestions.

If I’d observed all the rules, I’d never have got anywhere.“ ~Marilyn Monroe

————————————————————————
Random Useless Fact: 3 – 4 cups of green tea each day can boost your metabolism by 4% which burns 50 to 100 extra calories a day.

Dec 112012
 

One myth about investing in the stock market or any other market where prices fluctuate is that it’s risky. But people who know how to value a stock understand that it doesn’t have to be risky if they buy the right stocks at the right time. Volatility and risk aren’t always correlated. Some companies with steady growth such as Enbridge have been pretty stable over the years.

Enbridge stock chart, volatility and risk

That’s not to say ENB is a good buy today because whether a stock is reasonably valued or not is another topic. But here’s a look now at Caterpillar below, who manufactures construction equipment, heavy machinery, etc.. Notice how the stock is more volatile over the same period as Enbridge.

Caterpillar stock chart, Volatility and Risk

But that doesn’t necessarily mean CAT is a riskier stock than ENB.  CAT is a more cyclical company so its Beta is suppose to be higher. What makes a company safe to invest in for myself is a positive trend of earnings growth, dividend growth, and industry expansion. Both companies have had stable dividend growth over the last decade meaning managers are confident about their company’s future performance. Both companies have also increased their profits over the years. Pipeline companies are looking to expand their pipes across Canada, and In Alberta alone the government has forecast there will be 114,000 jobs in the construction industry over the next decade (o.O) ENB and CAT are both in growing industries with growing demand for their products/services.  Stocks can vary in risk depending on what kind of business they are, but volatility doesn’t necessarily mean risk. It just means at some point in time, there might be  a good opportunity to buy the stock at a great value ;)

Here’s what the Oracle had to say on the subject….

“Volatility does not measure risk. Past volatility is not a measure of risk. It’s nice math, but it’s wrong. If a farm in Nebraska used to sell for $2,000 per acre, and now it sells for $600 per acre, investment theory would say that the beta of farms has gone up, and than they are more risky than before. If you tell that to people, they’ll say that that’s crazy. But farms don’t trade daily the way stocks do. Since stock prices jiggle around, finance professors have translated that into these investment theories. It can be risky to be in some businesses. Risk is not knowing what you’re doing. If you know who you’re dealing with, and know the price you should pay, then you’re not dealing with a lot of risk. We have invested in a lot of sectors that have high betas. The development of beta has been useful to people who want careers in teaching.”
- Warren Buffett

Beta – The measure of volatility. Higher beta = bigger fluctuations in price. The overall market has a Beta of 1. If a stock is said to have a Beta of 1.5 then that means it will be 50% more volatile than the market.