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! 🀞🏻

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˜

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.

Dishwasher Art

Thermaquaformed Cellar of Salt!

Many of us are getting better at the whole work-from-home thing these days. Some of us are picking up new hobbies along the way too. I’m struggling along trying to add a few words of French to my very limited vocabulaire, for example. I’ve also become a part-time DIY investor. There seems to be some sort of correlation between my portfolio & when the market is going up. I might be on to something here (😜)!!! And while my diligence with my writing is nothing short of horrendous, I have had an occasional artistic success.

In case you’re in search of a new hobby, I’d like to share one of those successes with you …

Dishwasher Art!

I know, I know, it sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it? But have you seen the money some of our art galleries have paid for a few big stripes of leftover paint on a sheet of drywall? What about your man that used to dance all over the canvas on the floor like a mad thing, while splashing paint all over the place. What was his name again? It escapes me for the moment, but if I ever get to have a pint with the guy in the hereafter, I know I’ll be ROTFLing with him. He’s probably got abs from laughing so hard at the money people were willing to pay him for using up the dregs in the leftover paint cans in the basement.

Well … Dishwasher Art is even better than this. You don’t need an art studio. There is no mess & no cleanup. In fact, you can do it while the dishwasher does the dishes. Anyone can take on this new artform, but only a few will rise to the top of what might become a new art niche. If it works out for you, remember who told you about it first!

A little while back, I bought this big tub of pink Himalayan salt. I got it because I thought the pink salt looked kinda cool. It was all odd-sized granules, more natural & elemental, very artisanal in fact. But some of the grains were too big & they blocked the holes in every salt cellar I owned. My salt cellars were all made of glass, or ceramic, or of some bloody material that I couldn’t easily run a drill bit through. To enlarge the holes, you see. I thought of going into the forest to hew down an oaken limb, so that I might sculpt an artistic salt cellar, for my artisanal salt. No, I shaggin’ didn’t, are you out of your mind? That’s way too much work! LOL

I went hunting in the press (cupboard!) for a nearly-empty bottle & I found one with a few whole peppercorns, balling about the bottom of it. Dumped those into the pepper mill & then, I had me a salt shaker in the making! Whacked a hole through the center of the plastic screw-on cap & tossed the nearly-finished ensemble into the dishwasher to excoriate the piquancy of the perrercorns’ piperine. I like pepper but I didn’t want the peppers’ pungency contaminating the olfactorius magnificence of the Himalayas on me. πŸ€ͺ

While lesser mortals were decrying my daring, insisting that my simple cellar should not see the light of day in the company of visitors, I forged ahead regardless. Creating the masterpiece in the pic above.

Dishwasher Art! 😜😁

PS … There’s no truth to the rumour that pink Himalayan salt is a miracle weight-loss cure! πŸ€ͺ