Tag Archives: saving

It’s Expensive to Pretend to Be Rich

 

In broad terms, the most common goal for most people is to save money and get out of debt. It costs a lot more money to pretend to be rich, than to actually become rich. There isn’t a difference between a $40 pair of jeans and one that costs $400. Except one thing. When you know what that is, and how important that difference is to you, I can predict your financial destiny.

Pretend wealth means the latest, greatest whatever. Whether it’s fashions or the newest gadget, cars, shoes, or sports gear. It also means these things need to be replaced every season, or with every new model. That gets very expensive. My iPhone 4 works fine – but there are millions of people who had a four, then a five, now a six, and can’t wait for the iPhone 7 to come out soon.

That’s money spent that can’t be saved in just keeping up. No, you won’t take every dollar you save on skipping one season’s fashions and put it into investments. You’ll read that from some people, but it isn’t real life. But saving $200 to $400 a month builds wealth. It’s not flashy, nobody knows it, nobody can actually see it, but it’s real and it’ll grow and grow.

You’ve heard and read the sentiment of pretty much resenting the “top 10 percent,” or that the top one percent keep getting richer. Well, it’s kind of unfair. Most of those people skipped the “gotta impress people” stage and started saving. Years later, their investments grew to hundreds of thousands of dollars. THAT is how they keep getting richer while the image-people keep spending and going broke.

Yes, the top 10% have it made. A $50,000 investment that took years to build will grow $5,000 or so every single year on auto-pilot. The image people spend that a year on credit card payments. It’s not a fair fight or comparison..

Someone on Facebook with me lives in a winter city. He started Facebook posts in September when he bought a super-expensive exotic sports car. Hundreds of likes and comments every month or so. I bet those people are really envious. Well, it turns out it’s a three-year lease at $1,300 a month. He’s still re-posting pictures of it every few months to keep getting the bang for the impressing-you buck…even the six months he can’t drive it..

In three years, he has to return the lease, or pay the lease buyout with another loan. He’s out $50,000 or so in payments..but has hundreds of FB likes and people who are super impressed…versus the $50,000 in investment…There’s a difference – a big difference.

Stock Market Meltdown? What Meltdown?

Was I ever excited yesterday that there was a huge clearance sale on investments! And that sure came true. For the three days ending Monday, the markets dropped around 10%. But don’t panic:

Take a deep breath, don’t make panic decisions, and realize that a correction happens every 18 months or so. Since the last one was five years ago, this has been coming for over three years!

I manage a seven figure investment portfolio for a relative, so I have a LOT of skin in the game.  They are managed accounts where I don’t get involved at all with Hollis Wealth South Edmonton. Before the correction, the accounts were up 11% on average. They are conservative and do not have any individual stocks – because that is gambling. They dropped $54,000 in three days. But that only reduced then to their April 2015 levels. Yesterday, the market was way up and the accounts made back a ton of the previous drop.

The markets go down and they go up. Over a quarter, a year, or ten years, they’ll be up – just not as of Monday. Investing is a time horizon of five years or longer. So what on earth does it matter what one day or one month brings?

We tend to think what happened last week will go on forever. There are still people who have never invested again after the 2008 actual meltdown. The markets have quadrupled since then, and they’re in GICs. Conversely, when things go well, we tend to think that the good times will last forever, and that’s not true, either. There’s a great quote that more money is lost preparing for a correction than in an actual correction.

If you are saving for a down payment, a car, or whatever, your money should not and cannot be in the market. It needs to be in a boring no-return/no temporary loss savings account.

If you’re retired, or close to retirement, you do, or should, have a conservative portfolio. The markets dropped 10% but, in my case, the accounts didn’t go down by more than 4%. On the other hand, if you’re in your 20s, you should have good growth mutual funds and one week doesn’t matter because you won’t need the money for 40 more years!

The best way to invest is a little each month. Whether it’s $100 or $500. Make the contribution monthly no matter what the market is. On down months, you’ll get a lot more shares – on months when the market is up, you’ll get fewer shares. Go to yourmoneybook.com and search for dollar cost averaging with some incredible stats going back to the Great Depression of how that’s THE best way to invest.

Lastly, you need to be mindful that Canada is a resource rich country. But we’re also a tiny percent of the world economy. My investment accounts have almost no Canadian stuff in them – haven’t for 18 months – way before oil and the dollar plummeted. Canadian investments won’t come back for two years – if then…

Again: Take a deep breath and realize it’s temporary. If you think the free enterprise system is doomed and companies in the index that you hear about like Walmart, GE, Telus, etc. are all going to go under – then you can sell and get out. If not, just don’t open your statements for a couple of months and ignore the doom and gloom…

Three Must-Do Tips for Any Grad

Ah, it’s grad season for two groups: those graduating from high school and heading into the work world or university, as well as those just now graduating from university.

When I ask any adult when they were last debt free, the answer is almost always that they haven’t been debt free since they were your age. When they were 18 or 19 – and they’ve been in debt since then. Sad but true – that’ll be you.

Getting wealthy comes much easier if you learn to say “I can’t afford it,” and spend less than you earn. When you were still in high school, you probably had a summer job or other income. You worked hard, had a goal of what you wanted to do with that money, saved like a dog, and paid cash for stuff. Plus, because you had so little money, you were careful how you spent it, right?

But now you have a paycheque, and access to borrowed money, which includes student loans and a credit card. So you’ve forgotten how to get rich already and you’re just getting going. Let me remind you again and maybe, just maybe, you’ll do these things to actually get rich, instead of just making that your 40-year dream:

Pay cash for stuff

Don’t buy crap you can’t afford and don’t need

Save ten percent of your money

Maybe someone in your family will print this out for you. Maybe someone cares enough to go over to Mosaic and get you the It’s Your Money book. Maybe I’ll see you at the top, or maybe I’ll get an e mail from you in five years or so to help you with some of your financial mess.

If you’re graduating from high school, it’s a valuable investment to establish credit. Read the chapter on how to do that and the credit card chapter to understand the rate, perks and limit traps that you’ll be dodging a lifetime.

Plus, leave your credit card at home – don’t pack it in your wallet. The first time you charge a consumable such as gas or food on your credit card and do not pay it in full when the statement arrives you’re in financial trouble. From there, it’ll just get worse. Miss paying off your balance and it’s twice as hard the following month when the balance has likely doubled. Then, the credit card companies have won and have you hooked for the next few decades.

If you’re just graduating from university, I bet you’re sick of living like a poor student and ready for some major spending. The biggest financial damage is done in the first year following graduation. Get the job, get the paycheque, but if you can delay gratification and live like a poor student for one more year, you’ll have an incredible amount of money saved in that year. Once you turn on the spending tap you aren’t going to be able to turn it off again – so just delay it one year.

Finally, there was a great article on the ten choices you’ll regret in 10 years. It includes avoiding change, trying to impress others, and giving up when the going gets tough. I’ll post the link on the yourmoneybook.com site. You should add one more: Not learning from your financial mistakes by denying them…

http://www.trueactivist.com/ten-choices-you-will-regret-in-10-years/