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˜

I Still Don’t Like Batteries

Battery Power

I’m sure I had battery powered toys as a kid. Back then, recharging the batteries meant throwing a tantrum until Mom or Dad replaced the dead ones. The first battery powered gadget that sticks in my memory, however, is my cassette tape player & recorder. Do you remember those things? You could fast forward & rewind them “offline” by sticking a pencil in the sprocket & twirling it. For ages!

The biggest problem with this battery powered thing was that the batteries always died when I was recording that hugely important song from the radio. The one I’d waited weeks to catch. Recording was a sloppy business back then. You had to time starting & stopping the recording process to eliminate as much of the DJs chatter as you could. Without clipping too much of the track’s intro & tail off. And yeah, the recording quality sucked. But at least you had a tape of your favourite songs to take along on that beach picnic.

Later, I moved to LPs. Vinyl records. These weren’t battery powered machines, but the quality was much better to record from. My big hang-up with LPs was that you had to pay for 15 or 20 tracks, but I really only wanted 2 or 3 of them. I dreamed that, one day, you’d be able to walk into a record shop & select the tracks you wanted. Stick your money in the slot. And out would pop your very own custom LP, with 20 tracks you really liked. I also dreamed that I would be playing my homemade mixes on my tape player. Powered by batteries that lasted waaaaay longer. Like weeks or months. Not just hours.

Fast forward to today & the ceiling on some of my dreams have been totally & utterly smashed. Way back then, I could not have imagined the convenience & flexibility of today’s streaming music services. There wasn’t even a glimmer of the potential for streaming, not only audio, but moving pictures too! Who could have imagined watching a movie or a concert on a little mainframe computer, like our phones.

The technology leaps that allowed for such amazing capabilities in sound & vision were not matched by equivalent improvements in battery technology.

I’m not saying things haven’t improved but, today, I continue to worry about my battery dying. So much so that half the electrical sockets in my house have power bricks & USB cords. Our cars, bars, airports, trains & planes all sport USB charging ports now. Bearing testament to our mass societal worry about our batteries dying. It’s just overwhelming proof of our collective dissatisfaction with the advances in battery technology, isn’t it?

Do you think I’m going to buy an electric car any time soon!?!

Dividends are like Financial Vitamins for my Portfolio!

Financial Vitamins

None of this is investing advice. In fact, I might be the worst investor you’ll ever meet. Back in the late 90s, I got caught up in the dot-com fever & became an “investor”. Along with my collection of hot stocks, my advisor at the time talked me into a few sedentary holdings. One of them was BCE Inc. (BCE). My favourite growth stock at the time was Nortel, an iconic Canadian tech company that was at the heart of the internet revolution. When the bubble burst, I sold off BCE & kept Nortel. Nortel went to zero. Had I held on to my boring telco shares, from January 1st, 2000, a 10k investment in BCE would be worth over 70k today. With the dividends reinvested. That’s an annualised return of about 9.3%. And it handsomely beats a low-cost S&P 500 index tracking fund (worth almost 47k today), over that same timeframe, by about 2% a year. That comparison includes reinvesting the fund’s (lower) dividends too.

Ignoring those dividends, just looking at the share price growth, BCE is only worth a little over half the index fund after the 21 years. Reinvesting the dividends added more than 50k to the total return. That’s quite the vitamin pill!

Fast forward 20 years & I’m working from home. During a pandemic. I surface from my basement office at lunchtime & I turn on BNN Bloomberg. The parent company of BNN Bloomberg is BCE, go figure. πŸ˜‚

Anyway, I get hooked. And this becomes part of my new routine. This time, however, I manage to resist the lure of the hot stock brigade. Okay, I admit that I made a few bucks on a brief dalliance with a bitcoin ETF! I know, I know … I would have done really well if I’d stuck with it. But instead, I start looking at big, boring, dividend-paying & dividend-growing companies. I’m too old to be sweating the gyrations of the growth sector every day.

Ironically, I’m a BCE shareholder again! πŸ€ͺ

I wonder if I can stay the course during the next market crash? Will I have the bottle to battle the next bear? I have no idea how this will look 20 years from now. But if it works out, & if I don’t spend it all along the way, I’m sure our kids (or maybe my favourite charity! 😜) will be grateful.

Remembering all those who served & those who continue to serve, especially in our family, on this Remembrance Day.

My Book of Stories from Ireland is on Sale!

My book (For a Man or a Dog) is on sale at Amazon.com. It doesn’t appear to be on sale at any of the other Amazon sites, but it’s 41% off on the .com site.

I didn’t put it on sale, but maybe Amazon does every now & then? No clue how it works, but if you want a copy, this might be a good time to get it.

Possible appeal to the Irish diaspora, or if you have any interest in Irish life & culture. If the link below takes you to your local site, you might have to go to Amazon.com the hard way.