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The Biggest Asset You Have

We finance nerds spend a lot of time thinking about investments. Constantly watching the markets and checking our brokerage account. Overanalyzing this, over-optimizing that. All to squeeze out a few basis points. There's some value here of course but our energy is largely misplaced. Your portfolio should take a backseat to your biggest asset, you.  Human capital - the value of all your future earnings. Your economic power. Far more important than any portfolio decision. You're the cash cow, invest your energy accordingly. The more you invest in yourself, the greater your financial potential. Keep learning. Education is the greatest predictor of wealth. College graduates makes a median $30k more a year than high school graduates. Huge for a single year, life-changing over a career. The chasm grows even wider for those who up-skill post-graduation. Learning makes you valuable.   Focus on your career.  Invest in a career (or build a business) that is financially rewarding and so

Some FIRE Thoughts

Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) is a lifestyle centered around frugal living and aggressive saving. As the name suggests, the goal is to stop working as soon as possible, most aiming by their 30s. The movement has a lot of fanfare with millennials. And as with anything popular with Gen Y, criticism has been prominent.  The math is simple. Figure out your annual spend, divide it by your safe withdrawal rate (most use 4%) and you have your FIRE number - a portfolio balance big enough to generate returns that can cover your expenses. Say you spend $20K a year. With a 4% withdrawal rate, you'll need $500K to retire. Easy.  This is usually where the criticism kicks in. The math is fixed, too clean. Returns and expenses are not. The markets are a mystery and life even more so. An extended downturn or a large medical bill can easily throw off your plan.  The second tier of criticism is more personal. Why work a job you hate? Why deprive yourself? Why aim to sit around all day?

Rich Courses, Poor Lessons

"Too good to be true" is such a cliche - but it's a good one and it's true. Investing is a breeding ground for charlatans. Which makes sense. Wherever there's money, they're there. The scam I see a lot of lately involves training from stock market "geniuses". A classic. Fake experts have always existed, the internet has just made them louder.  The con is simple. A promise of outsize returns through some kind of proprietary system or insights. A guarantee in returns is a guaranteed red flag. Even the best acknowledge investing is hard and returns are finicky. Anyone who is this confident are at best misinformed, at worst a liar. They'll show charts of amazing performance. Usually beating the market by hundreds of points. Shouting you can learn to do it too!.....for just a few hundred bucks. What a value, right?  This is usually nothing more than cherrypicked (or made up) data. Think about it. If they had the key to the markets, why would they giv

Never Enough: Appetite For More

2020 is one for the record books. As the year wraps up, it's still hard to comprehend how weird it's been. For investors, what a journey. We entered the year riding a decade-strong bull, poised to only get stronger. Then COVID entered the chat and along came the big bad bear. The market fell off the cliff and all looked dire. Then in an unprecedented snapback, we hit all time highs a few short months later. I was fortunate enough to have stayed invested and continued investing throughout the year. Buying all the way down and all the way up. All things considered, it's been a solid year of returns. Much better than I expected. I should be very happy. But I'm human, and FOMO is real. Stories of investors making a fortune betting on stocks make my returns look like peanuts. The pandemic-induced volatility has stocks doubling and tripling in a matter of weeks. I can't help but to be tempted to join in.  Airlines are still down 50%. These stocks are due to recover and I&