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Hold the Line?

January 7, 2011

From a Morningstar Analysis of fund holdings and duration:

Of the 59 one-year periods from 1950-2008, 16 resulted in a loss for their particular year. However, if you increase your holding period to five years, only 1 of the 55 overlapping five-year periods resulted in a loss. Moreover, none of the 45 overlapping 15-year periods from 1950-2008 resulted in losses. However, keep in mind that holding stocks for the long term does not ensure a profitable outcome and that investing in stocks always involves risk, including the possibility of losing the entire investment.

 

Additionally, I will state that the particular period in question may be biased due to the boom that followed WW2 and the potential anomaly of the technology boom that has been relevant for the last 50 years. These factors may not hold true for the next 50 years, which occur under different dynamic circumstances. However, if we consider poor market timing scenarios and the fact that transaction fees and other factors generated from excessive positioning and repositioning (various frantic buying and selling) eat into return yields, a positive trend over the long term from a holding position is a more realistic assumption than a series of educated and subjective selections subject to personal skilll alone.

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Are you succesful.

January 7, 2011

*below is an amendment to a previous post with corrected (downward) stats.

Successful people, among other things, gain an edge because they are willing to take on tasks that unsuccessful people hate doing. The interesting point is that the successful people don’t like doing them either. They are simply motivated to tackle them because they know it is necessary to achieve their ultimate goal. Having the ultimate goal without doing the unpleasant things leaves you as a dreamer.  Don’t get me wrong, there are many pleasant tasks associated with becoming successful, but real success involves pushing effectively through the unappealing or even scary tasks associated with achieving your goal.

Research has shown that out of 100 people 54 will end up broke, 1 will be wealthy, and 4 will have financial freedom. The rest will be existing. Why in one of the wealthiest countries in the world have so many people figured out how to be either broke or nearly broke.  A large survey was also conducted with working me who were asked why they get up and go to work in the morning. 29 of them said that they didn’t know.   Each one of these people grew up with aspirations, dreams, and desires. Along the way the dreams became smothered in altered justifications brought upon by fear and conformity. You are a victim only from your lack of belief in a world that you can control through enthusiasm and thought. It sounds harsh but we are not lemmings.

If you are truly successful it is because you decided not to conform; and conformity equals a lack of success in your life.  Conformity tends to push you into the middle; and I’m not talking about the socio-economic ‘middle.” That has nothing to do with success.  Ask yourself if your career inspires you into feeling successful. If the answer is ‘no’ than you (I’m afraid) have simply been conforming. Courage is success and success comes before money, not after.

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Financial Truth and Zen

January 5, 2011

How much time do you spend talking (or arguing) with your partner about money? We have the tendency to view our finances as an external variable and we react to situations  as if they are uncontrollable stresses forced upon us. This is a great fallacy. I have said this many times, that your financial health is simply the result of the effectiveness of your reality, decision making, and planning. We all have dreams and desires, but you cannot go into the casino with 10 dollars and expect to win 10,000. Maybe you’ll win 15 or 20 or maybe you’ll lose it all but don’t expect more than that.  I believe this is the same faulty thinking that affects a lot of Canadians. They outspend themselves out of a desire for a life that they wish they had, but probably (because of their circumstances) cannot afford. There was a time when I was no different. Many years in fact. If your lifestyle dreams do not align with your financial situation you have two choices: adapt your lifestyle dreams (which I consider to be a terrible sacrifice); or adapt your situation.  I agree that somewhere in there is a perfect balance, but the point is that we must learn to be harsh with our realities. It is true that we could all learn a lesson in delaying our satisfaction. I forget who said it but: “if you forgo going to the beach today you will  own the beach later.” Believe me, it doesn’t take much for the financial stresses of our lives to be whisked away. It’s all discipline and goal setting.

From one of my favourite sites, “Financial Zen,” is an article called “How to Get Financial Peace of Mind.” This paycheque-to-paycheque living is a ‘cancer’ to our lives. He starts the article by saying:

“Our finances are one of the things in our lives that stress us out the most. If we’re trying for a stress-free life — with stress-free productivity, working and living environments, waking early, morning routines and the like — then we need to address our finances and find routines that will keep the stress of money to a minimum.”

There are very simple (though our society has become ever incapable of implementing these) solutions. He explains:

“Let’s address these each with some simple solutions:

  • Get out of debt. This is often the first necessary step. But how do you do this? First, monitor your impulse spending urges to stop the bleeding. Use a debt snowball as a plan to get out of debt. Also see: How I save, How to stop living from paycheck-to-paycheck, and How I ended my affair with the credit card.
  • Pay your bills as soon as they come in. This is one of the easiest ways to eliminate stress over bills. When you get your power bill, write a check, put it in an envelope, and mail it the next day. Or if you bank online (and you should), go to your computer, log in, and send your electronic payment. To do this, you’ll need to develop a bit of a cushion in your bank account, so you always have enough to pay the bills as they come in.
  • Make your payments automatic. I’ve covered this before … it’s an great alternative to the above method. Instead of paying bills as they come in, you can set up automatic payments and automatic savings payments online, so that as soon as your paycheck comes in, your bills get send out and a certain amount is transferred to savings (or investments). Either method works great.
  • Develop a financial security net. This is something you should also do right away. First, if you are married or have any dependents, you should get life insurance right away. Do your research and make sure you’re getting the right policy for your needs. Don’t get whole life insurance — it’s not the smartest investment. Second, look at your other insurance to see if it meets your needs, from auto to homeowners to renters and more. Third, make sure you have a will — this might not seem necessary if you are young, but if you have any dependents, this is a must. Fourth, develop an emergency fund — right away. I know, it’s something that everyone advises, but if you don’t have at least a small emergency fund, you will never have financial peace of mind. Build it up to 3-6 months worth, or whatever you need to feel secure.
  • Review your finances at least weekly. To get a sense of control over your finances, you have to monitor them. Be sure you’re balancing your checkbook at least once a week, to ensure that you don’t have bounced checks or debit transactions. Even if your bills are automatic, you’ll still want to make sure they’re going out. Take the 10-20 minutes every week that’s necessary to look at your budget, your expenses, your income, and make sure you’ve got everything under control. If you’ve got a partner, do this together.
  • Talk about money with your partner. Money can be a huge stressor on a relationship. It’s important that you talk about money on a regular basis in a non-emotional way, as hard as that may sound. It’s crucial, in fact, to the survival of your relationship. You both have to be on the same page, or you will eventually argue and have major crises about your finances. You need to talk about your financial dreams and goals, your spending patterns, your budget, your income, your savings, debt, financial security, bills and the like. If you don’t already do this, it may take awhile in the beginning, and be difficult. But try to do it as a team, and not accuse each other of anything, don’t blame, and try to be positive and constructive. Over time, it will get easier. At the minimum, devote 10-20 minutes each week to reviewing your finances together, reviewing your goals, and making sure that you’re together and seeing eye-to-eye. It will make a major difference in your relationship and in your stress level.”

Doesn’t this sound appealing. Well it is, and it’s not difficult. You just have to make the decision. Life is only the acceptance of decisions and nothing else. The same holds true here.

Thank you to http://zenhabits.net/financial-zen-how-to-get-financial-peace-of-mind/ for the info.

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“Planning for the Unexpected”

January 3, 2011

A short, easy read, from Kim Inglis (writing for the Financial Post) that challenges readers to face the reality that they protect their boats and cars but not their own income.

http://business.financialpost.com/2011/01/03/planning-for-the-unexpected/

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Thank you to the “Modern Approach” group

December 28, 2010

Attached is a nice comment from Andrew P. Murray and his team regarding my Financial Planning Services:

http://modernapproach.tumblr.com/post/2496791365/financial-planning-for-2011

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An Update to Christmas and A Modern Approach

December 13, 2010

-Well, things are winding down for the holidays.  Except for a packed schedule of social events, Christmas parties, concerts, performances, business will be slowing down until the week of Jan 5th (unless otherwise needed). The holidays should be a time to socialize with family and friends and recharge your batteries. It is also, believe it or not, a good time to consider (with a relaxed and clear mind) the adjustments you wish to make to your finances for the new year.

Your financial health should be exactly like your physical health- unencumbered with complications. Protecting, saving, and growing a powerful net worth is not complicated. Take the right steps and exercise your plan and you will have energy, choice, longevity, and freedom of lifestyle. Although I am making an obvious analogy, it is important to realize that your mental and physical health is directly linked to your financial health. Both are made stronger on principles of discipline, planning and fun. If you can come honestly to the realization that you will have at least one serious health related complication in your life , you will agree that you must prepare (both physically and financially) so as to limit the damage to your life; and don’t underestimate the damage this causes. A protection strategy partnered with growth of your net worth is a responsible and exciting combination.  This is the only message I wish to have you consider during this holiday break.

-On a separate note, my meeting with Scott Brison was quite successful. I am looking forward to working with him and his group to educate and support local (and non-local) programs and plans that can be implemented to assist families with the financial impact of critical and catastrophic illnesses. As you know, this is a big part (mandatory even) of all of my financial planning strategies and I am happy to support Scott on this and any other related programs.

-Finally, I am proud also to support the initiatives of Andrew Patrick Murray in his “Modern Approach” to Real Estate. He, I believe, is the first to capture the cutting edge of social media and mobile applications for the purposes of assisting the home buying/selling public with their real estate needs. Andrew and his team can provide the entire life-cycle of the home buying/selling experience from one easy to use application. For more, please review his Facebook page at:

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Halifax-Real-Estate-A-Modern-Approach/136668999714884

Also, the official website is:

http://www.modernapproach.ca/modernapproach/index.lasso

Thank you for reading and thinking:

See you in (or before) the new year, Jeff H Barrett

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Loans, Mortgages, Credit Cards,Debt items, etc

December 9, 2010

Always protect outstanding balances through purchasing insurance coverage that covers the amount and the duration of the liability. For example: If your Mortgage is payable in 20 years and you owe 300k, purchase a 20 year Term policy with a face value of 300k. This is remarkable cheap to purchase and is not only responsible (if you care about your family..ha) but necessary in some cases. Do the same for Lines of Credit, Credit Cards, and so on. If you already have it in place with the bank, you will be shocked at how much you are overpaying for a different type of coverage. Always, and I mean always, buy private coverage for these items through your investment advisor because bank sponsored Creditor Insurance (another name for what I am talking about here) is over priced, depreciates in face value, cannot be transferred to a permanent policy (as can Term Policies; and no medical is needed upon conversion), and goes to your beneficiary when/if you die so that they can pay off the debts and keep the difference. I paid 56 dollars a month for insurance for a 15000 dollar line of credit. I paid this same amount (despite depreciating loan values) for over 10 years. Once the loan was paid off, I lost the coverage that I had (foolishly) paid over 6000! dollars for (think about it, paid 6000 dollars insurance on a 15000 dollar loan. Now I know better. You can get about 500000 dollars coverage (Term 20) for like 40 dollars a month (if you’re in your 30’s) and you can transfer it to a permanent policy or cancel it once your debt is paid off. Think of the math on that.