Series

The Importance of Keeping the End Result in Mind

Have you discovered the beauty of the “Reminders” feature of your iPhone? It is a wonderfully helpful tool as it has helped me remember to complete many tasks that I would have completely forgotten otherwise. This “reminders” feature allows something that has escaped my mind to be brought back into clear and immediate focus.

Perhaps we should do this for the bigger aspects of our life!

Do you understand how important it is to keep the end result in mind? It is a helpful and healthy exercise to regularly think about the reasons for your activity. This is because those reasons can easily slip your mind thus creating the need for reminders.

Keeping the end in mind allows you to sustain the mundane, humdrum, boring, drip-drop activities that individually mean little but collectively add up to a lot!

A practical example in my own life
Over 18 years ago, my bride and I welcomed a baby girl into our life. As she gave her first few cries of life, it was a notification that she was probably going to college! An 18 year notice that went by so quickly, it is hardly believable.

I had graduated from college with a mountain of student loan debt and credit card balances. My new bride had student loan debt. It was our desire that our child(ren) wouldn’t have to start out life with a pile of debt. With this commitment, we had an “End Result in Mind” – To help our child(ren) graduate debt-free.

Then we took action by establishing a 529 college savings plan for her and set up an automatic monthly contribution of $100 per month.

And then we went through the humdrum, the mundane, the month-after-month steps of contributing $100 per month. Then we paid off our non-house debt.

Keeping the “End Result in Mind”, we increased our contribution to $200 per month.

And started another trot down the boring, monotonous, plodding activities of life. Month after month after month after month …

The stock market collapsed in 2008, but we kept the “End Result in Mind” and continued the journey. Month after month after month after month after month. Facing down one financial challenge after another, we kept the “End Result in Mind” and continued to contribute. We went through financial challenges too numerous to list them all, but here are a few. IVF. Broken downstairs heat pump. Broken upstairs heat pump. Dead hot water heater. New roof. Multiple surgeries (and accompanying insurance deductibles).

Yet, we never lost sight of the goal. Honestly, at times it felt like college was something mythical and too far into the future to be worrying about, but our feelings lie to us. In spite of the challenges, we never missed a single month of contributing to the college fund.

THEN IT BECOME A REALITY!

I found myself carrying a futon into my daughter’s college dorm room as she begins her freshman year. It was all done with a smile because persistence has allowed it all to be done without the incurring of debt. None. Zero.

If you are the parent of youngsters, I encourage you to define your “End Result” you need to keep in mind, and then take action by contributing to a 529 college savings plan!

Never underestimate the power and importance of keeping the end in mind.

One last note: Retirement today kind of feels like college expenses seemed like 18 years ago …

Joseph Sangl’s Current Investments – 2018

Full Disclosure: I am not a certified financial planner, nor do I sell investments, insurance products, or other similar financial products. My goal in sharing this information is to shed light on a topic that few people understand well. It is my hope that this information will help inspire more people to climb the I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. Ladder (download a free copy HERE) and become wise investors so they can live fully funded lives.

=| 2018 INVESTMENT UPDATE |=

It’s that time of year again where I review my current investments and take a moment to philosophize about the future of investing.

My investing activity is driven by a powerful truth: “There is no HARVEST if you do not INVEST.

Just as a farmer can not have any hope of a harvest if seed isn’t put into the ground, we can not expect to reap a financial harvest if we do not invest! In May, I will have been an active investor for 22 consecutive years. That is half of my life! For the first six years, I invested exclusively into market-based investments via a company retirement plan (401k), college savings plan (529), and a small stock trading account. Since that time, I have diversified into real estate and small business along with a dabbling in precious metals. This approach has yielded excellent results.

As I prepare this report each year, I always take time to review previous updates I have provided. A statement made in my 2007 update bears mentioning again: “Many people are diversified WITHIN the stock market. It is also important to be diversified OUTSIDE of the stock market.” I encourage all investors to invest within the stock market, but to also explore other investments such as real estate, small businesses, franchises, or precious metals.

One of the most common questions we receive here at I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. is: “What investments do you recommend?

My answer is always, “I don’t recommend specific investments. I can only tell you the investments I own, and they have worked well for my family. The investments you choose are up to you.”

Below is a chart of my current investments – click on the chart itself to download a printable version.

The market experienced amazing growth over the past year. From my last update on March 30, 2017, the markets have soared. Aided by decreased regulation, major business tax reform, increased consumer confidence, increased capital spending, a fully employed workforce, and an improving worldwide economy, all of the major market indices have experienced substantial growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has increased 20.01%, the S&P 500 by 16.90%, and the NASDAQ by 28.24%.

Throughout the year, I continued to actively trade stocks. I have sold several individual stocks while deepening my investment into others. Overall, my investment strategy has continued on a straight-forward path of maintaining a balanced portfolio with approximately 32.64% real estate, 27.01% small business, 24.66% stock market and 11.57% cash.

My views of the investing market place:

  1. Stock Market Strength  There has been significant earnings growth which has supported a substantial increase in company valuations. One key measure to track is the “P/E Ratio” – Price-to-Earnings. This is the ratio between share price and the earnings per share. Currently the DJIA is priced at 26.17 times earnings (it was at 21.12 last year!) and the S&P 500 is priced at 25.86 (it was at 24.68 last year). This is not sustainable. One of two things must happen: earnings must increase substantially or share prices will drop. My belief is that a combination of the two will happen. Earnings will indeed grow due to tax reform while share prices will moderate to achieve a more reasonable P/E. (Side Note: My weighted balance P/E Ratio for my individual stock investments is a more acceptable 14.58). While I could be wrong, it is difficult for me to see major growth within the stock market in the near future.
  2. Turmoil and Roiling  There will be deals available in public markets, but I suspect they will be related to companies that experience major breakthroughs in new products or services.
    • Amazon is one of those companies that seems destined to completely redefine consumer behavior in multiple industries. Most of my mutual funds hold a substantial position in this company. “The Investment Company of America” [AIVSX] holds it as their third largest holding (2.7%), “Fundamental Investors” [ANCFX] holds it as their second largest holding (3.8%), and it is the top holding (6.9%) for “The Growth Fund of Ameria” [AGTHX].
    • Interest rates will be going up which will create earnings pressure for highly leveraged (meaning: lots of debt) companies. You can see the debt load of a company by looking at their Balance Sheet.
    • Oil prices have been creeping up as well. This can create pressure on earnings also for companies highly dependent upon transportation of their goods or for delivery of their services (think: airplanes, freight companies).
  3. Deals will be found – but they will have to be looked for! As I travel throughout the nation, I still see enormous amounts of building activity. Cranes in the skyline of every major city, new subdivisions being constructed, and lots of activity in the mortgage industry. The travel industry is on fire with hotel, car rental, cruises, and air travel all issuing price increases. Will this be able to continue to grow? If the answer is yes, then we must ask the next question: will it be able to grow profitably?
  4. Tax Reform  With more money going into the pockets of an estimated 87% of tax-payers (figures vary), I’m confident that Americans will do what they do very well: spend more money. This will continue to stimulate the economy with a measure of growth.

I will continue to invest in both individual stocks, index funds, mutual funds, real estate, and small businesses. Occasionally, I might pick up some shiny metal (the silver-colored one) along the way.

I welcome your thoughts on the investing market place as well. What do you think? What are your strategies?

My favorite investing information I’ve encountered over the past year:

Warren Buffet’s annual letter to shareholders (2016 lettertakes a few seconds to download, but well worth it)

  • I found Warren’s discussion of comparing hedge fund investing with index funds to be very compelling.  I dare you to go read it. It begins with the last paragraph on page 21 and continuing through page 24. I found it to be both wildly entertaining and tremendously enlightening.
  • In his 2017 letter, Warren writes the concluding piece to this discussion and “the bet.” I triple dog dare you to go read it. It begins with with the third paragraph on page 11 and concludes on page 14.

Read previous installments of Joe Sangl’s “Current Investments” posts HERE.