January 2018 – dividend

Another month has gone by, so yet again it’s time for the dividend of the month post. Always a fine moment. Compared to January last year there’s an increase in dividend by 12%. Factoring in the expensive Euro this is a nice result. It’s still all very modest and by no means were anywhere near the goals but for a hobby its very nice indeed.

This is the result:

DateStockCurrencyAmount
24-01-2018
Cisco SystemsEUR6,55
16-01-2018
W.P. Carey IncEUR8,14
11-01-2018
Walt Disney CompanyEUR0,68
08-01-2018
Vanguard FTSE All-World UCITS ETFEUR11,28
TotalEUR26,65

Portfolio news – July and August 2017 changes

An new portfolio update, this time it’s 2 months in one, why ? Well as you might know I buy dividend paying stocks and ETF’s. The first category because I like to research company’s and it keeps me busy. Nowadays it’s a sort a replacement for work as I can easily do it at my own pace and no deadlines. It also ‘trains’ my reading, analytical skills and maths , hopefully.

The ETF’s are the best option science wise, as research shows it’s important to have low costs, a large diversification and long term strategy. This is all combined in these nice ETF’s. In order to get my portfolio into the desired 50/50 divide between my own hand picked stocks and the ETF’s I have just been buying ETF’s these last 2 months. It’s not there yet but I am getting there. Hence the lack of updates in July.

It’s a bit of an experiment , learning if I can do better than the ETF’s. Which according to science is near impossible. But a man needs a hobby right ? Until next time. Happy investing!

Why a crisis can be good for you, just don’t wait for one.

Why a crisis can be good for you, it’s a thought I had last week and it’s one that stuck. In my life I have had a few setbacks. At that time they seemed much more like a crisis to me.

Because I didn’t know or understand a real crisis. One where you can’t make a plan to get out of the situation fast and you have no real control or feeling of control over the majority of the circumstances. A health crisis is one that meets those criteria, and I can argue there is worse. And it make me think a lot about what I want to do with the rest of my life.

I always looked at time as an infinite factor, or didn’t think about it. I just rushed trough it, as I wrote before did as many things as possible without real and intense focus.
So what has this done for me other than a desire and need to focus. Well it made me think about my ‘career’, I have always worked in IT and did various tasks developing software which were fun and enjoyable without all the politics that go with it. It also never contributed to society as a whole.

Being confronted with my health and all the work that goes into recovery also made me appreciate people working in healthcare or other fields that contribute a bit more to society a lot more.
I never really thought about working in one of those fields, be it in healthcare, environmental work, research, education or some other more useful occupation. I have been talking about it a few years back with people about some of the ideas I had for a career switch involving a bit more social and a bit less career and money. Like a mid-life crisis of sorts feeling useless in general and wanting to be more active and beneficial for others. But hey, the next good job came along and the daily routine took over again. Just doing what you have always done feels comfortable. Change scares me, simple as that.

This time it really feels different, not just a general feeling but a real conviction I need to make this change. Not just because of the limitations I am currently experiencing, those can still improve, but a real gut feeling I need to add some value to the overall well being of society, even if I can only make a difference for a few people I would be happy.

I have always been fortunate enough with the way I grew up, the chances I got in life and the opportunities I had, which enabled me to get a good education, a nice job and a good overall understanding of how things work and how to go about setting your goals and make them happen. I utilized these skills for me, myself and I (An excellent De la Soul song as well, with a different message altogether).

I have experienced first hand the importance of good guidance and help in life , and especially when you go through a crisis in any form. Not just from the people around you but from experienced professionals as well. Without the help of those people I would have ended up pushing my limits and ultimately being exhausted and repeating my mistakes over and over without any insight how too manage this. It would be a road too nowhere. So in my journey towards a new job I will make it a priority that it helps people one way or the other.

I would like too encourage anyone to take a good look at themselves once in a while and figure out what really makes you happy and what it is you want to do with your time. If it’s not found in the things you are doing now start changing them now. Take small steps towards your new found goals and enjoy each step. Don’t wait until the next real crisis, as it can very easily be your last. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

The value of time

Money and time, a combination not many people are thinking about. A few years ago I was re-introduced to the concept of “Time value of money” , simplified meaning the future impact on your life of every financial decision you make.

I knew it was a thing in economics and finance because I learned about it in school. But that just stated the definition and the calculations that go with it.

Not the concept , the philosophy behind it. Not just the numbers but the way you make choices based on the wrong perception of the “Time value of money”.

First the dry calculus behind it. And I will make this really simply and boring so anybody can understand this. Let’s say you have 1000 Euro, dollar or whatever currency , you can spent it on the coolest new jacket. Or invest it it with a yearly return of 3% , not much but it’s safe and you will keep your 1000 no matter what. In 30 years with compounded interest the initial 1000 will amount to about 2400 and change if I calculated this correctly but it’s close. So just making the decision not to spent but save/invest will return 2427,26 in time.

What about inflation, that’s true but doesn’t matter for now it’s the concept and mindset I am trying to illustrate. There are more and better investment options as well. Moving on.
Not buying the latest whatever will make you richer financially. It also shows the power of an integral part of investing , compounding returns over time , interest, dividends etc.

By simply stopping and asking the question, is the investment in this jacket worth the loss of future returns? Do I really need this jacket ? And is there a better alternative, say spend 250 on a jacket and save 750. You can buy more jackets during that 30 years from the compounding alone. Interesting, but hardly on anyone’s mind.

So what does this mean. Every financial turn you take will affect your future options in life. Over time compounding will make you wealthier in money and in time.
Wait richer in time. Yes , time. Time is an uncertain factor, and a lot of people are only considering money when making financial decisions. Nobody’s asks ‘How much time will it take me to earn the money needed to buy the jacket?’

Again simply calculus, you make 65 Euro an hour (which is a very good) , meaning you will have to work about 15 hours just to buy that 1000 dollar jacket. So by saving this money the amount of time your need to work in the future becomes shorter. Even with the evil inflation over time. Let’s substitute this for a house to make it more acceptable. Let’s say you can buy a house of 200000 Euro with a mortgage of that amount, or one which has the same features but is slightly smaller and cheaper, let’s say 175000. You will have to pay this off in 30 years. Not taking the burden of interest into account and the same hourly income that 25000 difference will make that you have to work about 384 hours in the future. So your ‘retirement’ just got 384 hours shorter. Taking interest into account you will have to work even more hours to pay this debt off.

I deliberately simplified the calculus just to show the concept. So the questions you should ask yourself are , does this purchase add value to my life and what is the cost in time for this purchase, time value of money.

A lot of people are complaining they are way too busy, maybe it’s the new norm to be busy. One of the main reasons behind it is financial pressure, we have to make X amount of money each month just to pay off all sorts of debt and buy all sorts of stuff to use in the limited amount of free time left at the end of each week.
I don’t know that many people who are over the moon about their job and rave about the cool stuff they are doing. Most people are passionate about hobby’s , volunteer work, sports etc. Stuff other than the thing they spend doing most of their lives.

The people I do know who love their work and get a lot of value out of it have followed their passion, and have success. But this is not attainable for everyone.
If only I had more time to do X, Y or Z. It’s a frequent remark. It’s all too familiar for most of us. But by taking the value of time into consideration a lot of financial decision making will become decisions on life.

How to go about this ?

First starting point is figuring out what you really want out of life, and start asking the right questions. I have always wanted to….
Make the list , get that list in the right order. Finally attach a sum of money to it. And a time frame. See how much time it will take you to get there and then do it.

It’s that simply and hard at the same time. Making choices always is, but without choices you will be bound to a life that’s never really yours.

Minimalism

Watched “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things”, on minimalism. Short version of the definition is living a meaningful life with less. Less stuff, meaning less material possessions, and stop the never-ending chase of more stuff.

Giving more space for time , perusing life goals , and focussing on experiences and way less on chasing materials possessions. I have been interested in this subject for a while now. The documentary outlines the trade off between time , money, material possessions and valuation of these items in life. So If I buy this product, what will this add to my life. It’s not advertising getting rid of all of your stuff. Just ask the question will owning this make me happier. For example , my record collection is an ongoing source of happiness, listening to the records, feeling the records, cataloguing them (yes even that) makes me happy. So should I get rid of them, no. Because they add value to my life. That’s the important question.

It’s not about living out of a suitcase and owning nothing, it’s about making life interesting, intriguing and happier when you get rid of the things that don’t add value to your life. Changing your way of thinking and getting out of the more and bigger is better rat race , rewards you with more time spend on things you value the most. It reduces your financial obligations and lowers the need for a high paid and high stress job as well as the need to finance your life , or should we say lifestyle.

It’s interesting because when thinking about it, you work hard , have less free time and what do we do in general, we spent our hard earned money as fast as possible in our limited free time. And the race continues. Advertising and popular culture creates this goal people trying to achieve, whether it is consciously or not. And a lot of people seem on auto pilot in that direction in one way or the other.

Trying to think about life differently is hard, for me it is anyway. Because ‘success’ is still measured with your job, financial position and stuff you own. While it should be measured by what makes you happy in life, not what society’s definition of a happy and successful life is. Food for thought.