Investing is so Exciting, eh!

Going to the Moon?

When I assumed control of my own portfolio during the pandemic, nobody told me how exciting it was going to be. Buying & selling stocks & ETFs, watching the numbers go up & down, checking out colourful little charts & graphs, it’s all great fun. Way more fun than getting fake coins for completing a crossword puzzle app on my phone. I must have missed my game time though, because I bought some crypto. Now I could carry on watching fake coins on an app, just like before. But without having all the pressure of figuring out which letters I needed to make a word. Crypto wasn’t that much fun though. I didn’t get the idea behind this game. So I sold them & bought these other stocks where you can win dividend coins. Every now & then, these coins just tumble in out of nowhere. Even when you have no idea what you’re doing. It’s great!

Investing is a fun game. I’m still learning & I don’t know all the rules yet. Is it better to own single stock warriors or little ETF armies? What does it mean when the numbers turn red? Am I trying to get the squiggly line to go up or down? Are we supposed to make mountain shapes with the lines? I think the overall objective of the game is to beat “the Market”. The Market is like the evil empire & if you beat the market, you get treasure.

That should be easy, no!

Why?

Because social media & 24 hour stock market channels provide an endless supply of expert advice now. And it’s free. What other game do you play that has it’s own TV channels? It’d be crazy not to take advantage of all that free wisdom, right? Though I must admit, they’re messing with my head a bit. One says buy this, the other says not. Next week, they both reverse what they said last week. Is this some clever gaming strategy? It takes a while to get used to a new game. To understand all the tricks & sly moves that get you ahead. But I have noticed that if you buy anything that a rich & famous person buys, you usually get a great result. Right now, I’m trying to figure out how to buy the right armour & weapons stocks before the famous guy does. That’s a good strategy, right?

It’s the same with all these games though. Kids learn much faster & play much better than us slightly older folk. Kids were getting rich buying these funny game company stocks. And that silly fake-money coin. While I was still trying to work out what to do with those dividend coins. I also didn’t know what bonds were. Was that like some kind of protective potion that you could drink when your stock warriors were under attack? Experts say older people should have a lot of bonds.

Anyway, I was too busy learning about how to attack the market with my stock icons, so I was late to the game buying a few bond ETFs. I know I should have spent more time looking into the powers of the bond potion but, so far, they blow. I’ll just park them in the corner for now & worry about them later. Though most of my stock icons are pretty boring too. All the exciting icons are with the high-flying gamers. This year however, they seem to be flying below my boring stocks. I’m guessing this is another strategy I haven’t figured out yet. Maybe they fly below to look for weak spots in the underbelly of my stodgy stocks? I might pick up a few of those high-flyers now. I don’t know what else to do with those dividend coins.

Back when I had advisors, the market would usually beat me. Except, sometimes, when I lost money. In years when I lost coins, they’d tell me that we (meaning the advisor & me) didn’t lose as much as the market. And that this was a very good thing. It was, I agreed. When the market was up, I didn’t think it was quite so good when the market beat “us”. But I learned that was normal & that we weren’t trying to beat the market. I’m good with that too. But I can’t believe I used to pay advisors to do all this fun stuff for me. They were having all the fun playing the game & I was paying them to play for me. It’s almost like paying someone to go out & have a nice dinner for you. And on you!

Now I have all the fun myself. I’m pretty sure I won’t beat the market either. But it costs me nothing extra to play now. And I can try to not lose as much as the market when things are down. Though I know I’ll miss those fireside consolation chats I had with my advisors when things sucked. Gaming solo can be lonely.

If I lose all my coins, I’m truly shagged. But I gotta say … so far … it’s been a whole lotta fun using a little money learning how to play the game.

Let’s see if I’m still enjoying the game as much by the time the next heroic bull emerges to battle the market.

Game on! 😜

When Dad Invests!

Do What Dad Says … Not! 😜

There are a lot of good investing bloggers in Canada. Some have chargeable services, but many share their knowledge for free. If you’re new to investing & trying to learn the ropes, they are well worth following. I, on the other hand, am all about my investing disasters. Disasters are way more fun, eh!

These days, I’m a dividend growth investor. But that wasn’t always the case.

Back in the tech boom of the late 90s, I specialised in chasing hot stocks. I got slaughtered. I owned some boring stocks that my broker talked me into buying. He had me in shares of companies like Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE), Microsoft (MSFT) & Proctor & Gamble (PG). Advisors are really boring, eh? My personal choices were the hot stocks du jour. Like Nortel (NT). When the dot-com bubble burst, I hung on for a bit. But then sold just about everything I owned at a loss. I kept my Nortel shares though. It was coming back, right?

As it happened, every stock I sold survived & thrived. Only Nortel went to zero. Nothing like losing a few dollars to confirm how big an idiot you are. It’s feels way worse when you throw away a bag of winners though. If you had 10k in PG back then, it would be worth about 92k today, with dividends reinvested along the way. PG spun out The JM Smucker Company (SJM) back in 2000. I remember selling off my few shares of that company right away. Who’d want to own a jam company, for cryin’ out loud? If you had invested 10k in SJM back in 2000, it would have grown to almost 149k today. I owned BCE from early in ’99, that would have gone to about 132k for the same amount invested. While Microsoft, despite the poor returns of the “lost decade”, would today be worth about 123k. I managed to sell all the long term winners. And I held onto the only stock that went to zero.

Listen up, my kids, I’m learning from my mistakes. I promise!

Fast forward to 2020. Now I’m a dividend-growth investor. But I have some contrarian impulses too. I bought shares in AT&T (T) when others were wary. Despite blogging advice to the contrary, that big dividend was calling out to me & I bought. I watched the share price drop. But I held fast, AT&T were about to spin out their media division. It was going to merge with Discovery & I was going to get “free” shares of this new media company. Shares of Warner Brothers Discovery Inc. (WBD) appeared in my portfolio last month. The painful memory of prematurely selling off my JM Smucker Company (SJM) shares was sticky. That lost opportunity left a bad taste in my mouth! πŸ€ͺ
Now an older & wiser investor, I was keeping any new spinoff.

Currently, both AT&T (T) & Warner Brothers Discovery Inc. (WBD) are two of the losers in my portfolio. But that’s just on share price return, I haven’t counted up all those juicy dividends yet! That’ll make up for it, right? Besides, I’m a buy & hold (albeit with white knuckles sometimes) investor now too.
I think I should just hold on & wait for the rebound!?!

Of course I’m the Dad who told my kid to stay away from investing in Bitcoin. Do I even need to say that nothing here is investing advice? It’s not!!!

PS … As I prepare to post this, it’s a down day across all the American & Canadian markets. But by some strange & lucky coincidence, these two are my among my best performers on the day. And yes, I really am keeping them. Cross your fingers for me, please! 🀞🏻

The Authoritarian State of Canada

Protest Weather!?!

I have no idea how Canadians can feel like they’re losing their freedom. If wearing a mask is all it takes to make us feel like we’re living in some kind of authoritarian regime, we’ve got it pretty good. While I was hesitant to sign up for a vaccine in the beginning, I stopped worrying about it as the ranks of the vaccinated grew, mostly without any adverse consequences. Being as fat as I am, from that point forward, I was vying to be first in line for the next jab. I can still see some folk worrying about having to get a vaccine though. I’m of a mind that if some people don’t want it, they shouldn’t get it. If the majority, moral or otherwise, want restrictions imposed because of that, I’m really not sure how we handle that to satisfy everyone. We probably can’t.

Most of us wouldn’t want to send our kids to school without all the regular childhood vaccinations. Nor without all the other kids being vaccinated too. There are a lot of things in life like that. I don’t have the freedom to smoke in restaurants any more. But I doubt I’ll be starting a freedom movement because of that.

Now my purpose isn’t to waffle on about the rights & wrongs of people having the right to protest. Nor is it about the rights & wrongs of either sides’ opinions, I’m sure there are some great arguments to be made on both sides. Most of us have already picked our side & we’ll probably stick with our choice. I’m curious though as to why anyone would want to go out in -18Β°C temperatures to protest something that’s going away soon anyway. We’re all fed up with this covid bullshit & I’m way overdue for a trip back to Ireland. I certainly don’t want to pay an extra three hundred bucks for tests to get out & back again. I’m equally pissed that I didn’t get a winter break to the sun the past few years. With another $300 in test costs added to that holiday.
(Nice first world problems to have, eh!)

But the reality is that some version of normal is coming back soon anyway. Most people know that they’ll survive covid just fine & we all desperately want to get back to normal. Now that we’re over (hopefully) the hump of the fatalities, we can be reassured by the graph trending down & we’ll return to being statistically oblivious again. We’re a pretty shitty species, eh? But we probably have to be this way. We’ll lump the reduced number of covid deaths in with those from the flu, heart disease, cancer & accidents, & we’ll all get on with our lives again. It’s the way it’s always been. And if for no other reason than us telling ourselves we have no other choice, it’ll be the same this time around. So why spend time protesting stuff that’s about to change anyway?

You can’t help but wonder if we’ve all missed an opportunity to learn how to do this whole pandemic thing better. Instead of protesting & blocking streets, we should all be pulling in the same direction. If all that protest time, money & energy went into supporting our healthcare system, would we have been better off? If all the protesters volunteered their time & money to supporting the healthcare system, would that have helped remove the concerns about the stress brought on by the peaking of hospital cases? Would that, in turn, help remove the last of the lockdowns & restrictions sooner? And isn’t that what the protesters want at the end of the day? Stop whining about the problem & figure out how to be part of the solution instead.

Look, I really have no idea how realistic it is to have us all pulling in the same direction. I also have no idea how we can do pandemics better. And we probably should learn how to do it much better, for when we’re faced with a far deadlier & uglier bug than omicron. But I’m guessing that wasting our time on this kind of protest doesn’t contribute a whole lot. Besides, our politicians couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery, so I’m not too worried about them getting sophisticated enough to take away my freedom!

At the end of the day, I’m still worried about covid killing me. Despite that, I’ve had enough with some of the restrictions too. Just not enough to have me thinking that my freedom is at risk.

With or without masks, we’re still the true north, strong & free.
Be nice & polite to each other out there, Canucks! πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸπŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Christmas Cat

See the Cat?

In our house, I’m always the first one up on Christmas morning. I clatter & bang around the kitchen until someone else gets up & starts yelling at me for waking them up too early. The ensuing “conversation” usually wakes everyone else up. Mission accomplished! It is only this Christmas that I realise that I might not be the normal one.

I thought every other household was up at 5am on Christmas morning. I was sure that all kids (of all ages!) wanted to be out ripping open their gifts. Doesn’t matter if all we’re getting is socks & underwear, it’s exciting to see what we got, no? But this year, I learned something new. It’s not true. I’m back in the city & I can see many more houses & apartment buildings now. Most households are still dark. Hours after I’m up. Waiting. With the cat!

At least the cat shares my enthusiasm. She’s right in there amongst the brightly coloured bags & ribbons. I’m being patient this year. And quiet. Though maybe it’s time for another cup of coffee now. A louder one!

Whatever the light that lights your way, I hope it shines brighter this holiday. And if you are one of those early risers, at least you know you’re not alone! 😜

Merry Christmas to all! πŸŽ„β˜ƒοΈ

10 Ways to be an Expert Investor on Social Media!

Pennies & Nonsense!

#10 … Post links to recently announced company results. If you can get off the mark early here, this makes you look smarter than the rest of the pack.

#9 … Quote well-known, high-visibility investing superstars. Often! And you can’t go wrong citing investing legends like Warren Buffett & Jack Bogle.

#8 … Criticise those well-known investing superstars who have hit a slump. They fell into a hole that you didn’t. You’ll look way smarter for having avoided the dumb mistake that the superstar didn’t.

#7 … Cite highbrow investing papers that say most experts cannot match market performance, most of the time. The softly veiled implication being that maybe you can!

#6 … Sound really confident about your recent investment. Justify it with musings on the balance sheet, book value & cashflow. But make sure it doesn’t look like you’re pumping the stock. Classic desperate expert mistake.

#5 … Pump crypto! Nobody has a clue what’s going on with this crap. And you can’t really be criticised for holding a belief in crypto as the new gold. That’s kinda like saying you can’t be feeling what you’re feeling. That’s a big no-no with investing snowflakes these days!

#4 … Talk about having a well-diversified portfolio. Maybe even recommend an ETF or two. Especially one that dilutes your home country bias. Unless, of course, you are really kicking the market’s ass with a focused strategy.

#3 … And if you do have that winning strategy to brag about, go ahead … brag. If you dare! But be ready to run for cover when your red hot portfolio cools. The pack will smell any lack of expertise & will socially annihilate those who screw up.

#2 … Be obscure. Use a whole bunch of big, financey, investy-sounding words. But combine them in phrases that are totally circular, meaningless, & nonsense. Like one of those touchy feely new-age books. Nobody will have a clue what you’re on about. And that makes you sound really clever. You might even be a new-age financial guru!

#1 … One of the best ways to be an expert is to circle jerk with other experts. Get some buddies who are all pumping the same philosophy & stocks that you are. When you & your buddies are all sharing the same stuff, the increase in noise makes it all seem so real. Who knows, you might even move the needle on that penny stock that you want to break even on!

Okay, I’m just having a little fun here. There are some really great investors online. Many of them sharing really good information. My problem is that I can’t figure out how to sort the good ones from the bad. And is it true that I won’t know who the real winning stock pickers are ’til years later??? When it’s all too bloody late! 😜

Who are your go-to financial gurus on social media? I’ve been unfollowing a bunch recently & I need to add some new ones. Send me your winningest gurus. And maybe a few funny ones too! πŸ˜‰πŸ˜