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Mid-Monthly April 2017

mid monthly April 2017

This is the Ninth edition of Stable Investor’s Mid Monthly.

Great Stuff Elsewhere

It’s not necessary to be twice as good to get twice the results. Just be 1% better for a sustained period of time. In other words, just identifying small opportunities to be just 1% better can lead to outsized results, when compounded over time. This 1% Rule is the real engine driving success stories.

Does the concept of retirement lead people to retiring “with some means but very little meaning”? In Artificial Finish Line, the author suggests that the whole idea of retirement is nothing more than an “Industrial Age social experiment that… has run its course.” And very soon, the transition away from ‘traditional’ retirement will be accelerated by our increasing focus on pursuing fulfillment (as “meaningful pursuits” are supplanting “pursuing means”). Interesting read. More so for people who wish to retire early.

Do you think that holding stocks for very long is guaranteed to make you do well financially? Think again. Its not a guarantee. So don’t let a market crash hit you at the finish line.

Accurate, Precise and worth going back to every now and then. These are 25 Short Investing Rules.

JP Morgan Asset Management tries to show how much you should have saved at certain ages relative to your income level. Makes for interesting reading even if its not quite applicable to Indian scenario.

Financial media is known to look after its own interest. Don’t tell me you didn’t know that. 🙂 But here are Ten Headlines You’ll Never See in the Financial Media. For obvious reasons.

This guy needs to visit India again. He is painting a totally one-sided picture of the country. And that’s really sad. Read this article A Dust over India and you will know why.

Different fields require different amounts of deliberate practice in order for someone to become world-class. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Oprah Winfrey all use this 5-Hour Rule.

Small Things that Make a Big Difference – Peace of Mind – even in investing.

Maybe I should try this myself. J But easier said than done. 12 lessons from Waking Up at 4:30am for 21 days.

Markets are rising and close to new highs. I have no idea when this bull market will end. And predicting the future is near impossible. But don’t attribute all your portfolio gains to your skills. Don’t confuse a bull market for increased brain power.

It requires an equal amount of effort (or even more) to watch everyone around you make easy money, while you stick to your principles and refuse to take part in the madness. Here is to the hangover of bull markets.

Do you feel guilty of taking ‘rest’? Don’t feel so because rest is not something given to you to fill in the cracks between work. Our cultural view of rest influences our relationship to rest, creating an aversion – the mistaken belief that rest is for the weak. However, this view is flawed.

How to tackle your BUSYness addiction? And how about Email vacations?

When you examine the lives of history’s most creative figures, you are immediately confronted with a paradox: They organize their lives around their work, but not their days. Here is another article that emphasizes on the theory that maybe, working less is better for us.

Why we want things we don’t need? And what to do about this Diderot Effect?

There are numerous articles on delaying gratification and similar approaches to life. But this is an interesting article on doing small things everyday to have fewer regrets. Its similar to an advice a Chinese man gave me.

This one is ultra long but worth bookmarking and reading later. Its about innovation and how society responds to it. The pdf uses original newspaper clippings to teach us more about ourselves than we could ever learn simply by reading the news today or tomorrow. Do read (or bookmark it).

We are constantly looking for perfect systems – to do this and do that and what not. Infact, entire industries are built off of this desire to find the perfect system for anything that you have uncertainty about. So here is the Perfect System to help you out with….everything.

One man reflects on his life five years after achieving early retirement.

You can have anything in life but not everything. So you are bound to have regrets in life. But don’t beat yourself up over it. Having some regrets in life is fine. You can regret your regrets all you want. But without them, you wouldn’t have lived much of a life.

 

In last few weeks on Stable Investor

Are you trying to save some percentage of your salary? Is it 10% or less? Do you even know that saving 10% of your salary won’t be enough?

PPF rates have been cut to 7.9%. This is historical low for the popular debt product. But PPF is still a good option if you know how to use it.

In stock markets, don’t be the unlucky 6-feet tall person who drowned in 5-feet average depth river.

A new financial year has started. Here is one important advice that you didn’t ask for but still need. Thank me later.

Deciding between saving for future vs. spending today can be stressful. But you can be wise about it and take a balanced approach. Here is how to tackle saving vs spending questions you had.

A father once sent her daughter a small memo about portfolio management. Makes for an interesting reading.

You are invested in stocks, bonds, provident funds, real estate, etc. But aren’t these all linked to the Indian economy? So aren’t you ignoring geographical risks?

I updated the annual study of Nifty PE Ratio and Returns earned over next 3, 5, 7 and 10 years. You can read the comprehensive analysis here.

And the usual, State of Indian Stock markets at the end of March 2017.

 

Some Books I Read (or Re-Read) Recently

 

That’s it…

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Mid-Monthly. Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts or make suggestions for articles you think I should be sharing in future editions.

 

Want to Read More?

There are several hundred articles on Stable Investor. If you want to deep dive, then you might find the archives section useful. Or if you are new here, then here is where you should start.

You can also stay updated about things I am writing, reading and sharing by following me on Twitter and Facebook.

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One Important Advice by a Chinese Man I met in Egypt

Few days back, I returned from a short trip* to Egypt.

*Also the reason why I didn’t post any new articles in last couple of weeks. 🙂

Advice Chinese Man in Egypt

Egypt is a lovely country. But this post is not about the destination. Instead, its about an important piece of advice, which a Chinese man gave me there.

Like me, this Chinese gentleman had come to Egypt on a mini-vacation. But unlike me, he was quite old. My guess is that he was over 65.

Since both of us were on the same ship on Nile River cruise, we did get several opportunities to get talking. Luckily for me, he was good in English.

From our talks, it became obvious that he was a big-time traveller. He had travelled to more than 15 countries. But he had one big regret – he started travelling quite late in his life (early 50s).

Here is what he said as far as I can recollect (not his exact words though):

____

I always wanted to travel. But more often than not, my travel plans were put on the back burner. Reasons? Can’t get enough leaves from office. Don’t have enough money for such expenses. Other financial commitments and what not.

I thought that in a few years, I would have enough money to travel as much as I want. But these ‘few years’ went by very quickly. I am travelling now as much as I can. But I repent that I did not travel much when I was young. My body would have better supported my wishes then.

I now have enough money to visit most places that I want. But I will not be able to experience those places as well as what most young people can.

When I look back at my life, there are moments that I am proud off and there are those that I regret.

And waiting (to travel later) is what I regret now.

Most people (whom I know and) who waited to travel the world later in life, never did.

You my friend – are young. You have time at your hand. And this time will not come back. If you really want to experience the world out there, you should travel as much as you can and as soon as you can. Don’t wait.

_____

I don’t know about others but I am one person who doesn’t need much push to go on a vacation. It’s difficult for me to imagine a life without travelling regularly and disconnecting from routine life.

Infact, I am a firm believer that traveling can change us in ways that few other things can. World is both a big and a small place. And you get to realize this only when you are away from home.

Don’t think that I am against having a life with routine. It definitely has many advantages and helps get things done.

But unfortunately, we take so much for granted in our routines (that many are stuck with for years and even decades), that it makes us numb. We need to get off this autopilot-treadmill to realize the dynamics of life.

When we travel, we break the routine. We make ourselves uncomfortable. And this switches off the routine-controlling part of the brain and makes us feel more alive.

We wake up in real sense.

Travelling forces us to see things from a new perspective. We learn so much more about ourselves. And here is the interesting part. Its not just the travel that changes us. But the ‘coming back home’ too plays a part. Traveling changes you in a million ways. But you don’t realize how much until you are back home. 🙂

But coming back to what this Chinese gentleman was telling me.

To be honest, I was in total sync with what he was saying. His advice of ‘Don’t postpone life for tomorrow’ makes a lot of sense.

But there are many who just don’t want to travel or believe in this philosophy. This post is not about them.

Rather its for those who want to travel but don’t or cant, due to various reasons. Some are in a race to end up with the highest possible bank balance. For this, they are ready to sacrifice things that they really want (like spending time with family, travelling or whatever). Others have genuine financial constraints.

I know what many of you would be thinking.

You have financial responsibilities (financial goals that are not optional). You are already finding it tough to save for all these goals. Then how will you find more money to travel?

Its a big financial dilemma.

Whether saving for important life goals means you can’t pursue other passions like travelling.

To be honest, there is no right answer here.

Ideally, there has to be a balance between enjoying today while also preparing for tomorrow.

But everyone has to find their own unique balance. A balance that allows you to pursue your real passions today, while also allowing you to sleep peacefully at night, knowing that you are well prepared for tomorrow.

A friend of mine is a big-time traveller. And his personal finances are totally screwed up. He at times takes personal loans to travel. I don’t think its wise to take such an extreme approach. Maybe he will realize it later. Then at the opposite end is another friend of mine, who is a big-time rat race runner. She is keen on adding zeros to her networth and is ready to hell-with-everything-else. 🙂

I am somewhere in between these two friends. That’s because having a balance increases sustainability of the strategy.

For me, travelling in itself is a big (recurring) financial goal.

I try to visit a new place every 6 months.

My wife and I have a dedicated travel fund where we contribute 5% of our monthly income for this goal. When we zero down on a destination, we can withdraw money from this fund. So our regular budget is not disturbed. Or it can be vice versa. We check the balance of travel fund and see what all places can we visit given our budget.

Ofcourse this means having less money for other goals. But that is fine with me. As of today, achieving financial independence (or FIRE) and travelling are two of my biggest goals.

The world (as well as India) is a stunning place. Unfortunately, life is too short and the world is too big. And I don’t just want to read about it. I want to see it first hand.

There are many who would question me for this approach.

But money is not everything – not even close.

And to be honest, time is the real currency we have. Its limited and sadly, we cannot buy or borrow more of it. So there is really no point in trying to be the richest man in graveyard.

So as long as I can do it, I will travel as much as I can. I don’t see any point in waiting until I’m old to experience these moments because by then, it might be too late.

I don’t want to sound preachy here (and my apologies if I do).

These are my thoughts and not everyone might relate to it.

So spend money on experiences you value most. Splurge on things you really want (but don’t be greedy or foolish). Don’t shortchange your life today. Don’t live a unnecessarily constrained and ultra-frugal life that will make you regret not having lived life to the fullest. But also make sure that you keep one eye on your future. You don’t want to screw it no matter how much you believe in future-has-no-guarantees kind of theories.

You want to make sure that you make the most of the time your life has given you. Isn’t it?

Monk or Minister?

I came across this small parable here.

And feel that it’s a must-read for everyone. It’s punch-you-in-your-face kind of a story… 😉

So have a look at it…

you monk or minister

_____

Two close boyhood friends grow up and go their separate ways.

One becomes a humble monk, the other a rich and powerful minister to the king.

Years later they meet.

As they catch up, the minister (in his fine robes) takes pity on the thin, shabby monk. Seeking to help, he says:

“You know, if you could learn to cater to the king you wouldn’t have to live on rice and beans.”

To which the monk replies:

“If you could learn to live on rice and beans you wouldn’t have to cater to the king.”

_____

Most all of us fall somewhere between the two. As for me, I am better off being closer to the monk. 😉

The 10 Best Articles of 2016

best articles 2016

We have finally reached the last few days of 2016. And it has been quite an year.

So after publishing 60+ articles (with more than 1,00,000 words) in 2016, I’d like to share 10 best articles of the year.

The idea of this listing comes from James Clear’s compilation here. I found this exercise quite interesting as it gave me insights about – which articles resonated most with you all (and which ones didn’t).

So let’s get into it.

Here are the 10 best articles of 2016 on basis of traffic and reader engagement (both on site and social medias):

Apart from these, there were many articles that I thought were decent enough, but didn’t get enough eyeballs. 🙂

So here are 4 other articles that deserve a second look:

Looking for more good articles to read? Check out the archives that has full listing of 330+ articles since 2011.

Stable Investor turns 5

stable investor 5 years

Exactly 5 years ago, Stable Investor was born.

And I was reborn. Though I didn’t realize it then. 🙂

You should forgive me for being a little overexcited today.

But if I can’t share my excitement with those who read this blog… whom can I share it with?

Last one year has brought 4 big changes in my life:

  • Got my license from SEBI to become a SEBI Registered Investment Advisor (now I professionally help individuals like you with their investments & personal finances).
  • Left my job and am focusing full time on Stable Investor.
  • Help companies/startups build and execute their content strategy.
  • Moved back to my home city (this is what I always wanted to do).

To be honest, none of this would have been possible if this blog was not there. And obviously, the blog would not have grown to its current state without YOU.

So thank you dear readers. Last 5 years have been wonderful for me, and I owe that to you.

With 6000+ blog subscribers, 5000+ Facebook fans and 4000+ Twitter followers, I must confess that I am pleasantly surprised by the love Stable Investor gets from you all.

These numbers are not huge and there is still a long way to. But they prove one thing very clearly – there are a growing number of people who really believe that long-term investing can change their lives. And these are the same people who also believe that the first step towards that aim is to put their own house (personal finances) in order.

Every week, I get mails from readers telling me about how something I wrote helped them take a good financial decision. These mails mean a lot to me. And everytime you write them to me, it becomes another source of motivation for me to carry on.

So dear readers… keep motivating me. 🙂

Together we have to take steps (regarding money) that allow us to live a life that we really want.

And the journey has just started.

I look forward to continuing this wonderful journey with you all, in years to come.

Regards

Dev

Stable Investor Mid-Monthly September 2016

monthly newsletter september 2016

This is the fourth edition of Stable Investor’s Mid Monthly.

Great Stuff Elsewhere

Leave everything and read this article by James Clear first (yes…its that good). You already know that achieving your goals is tough. This article has an alternative approach to help you achieve what you really want.

Another solid article to help you do exactly what the title says – How to scale yourself and get more done than you thought possible?

Note – If you don’t have time, do bookmark the above 2 articles for later reading. You will thank me when you have read and understood the importance of both 🙂

Stressed Out? Don’t worry. You will be Ok.

Bill Gates talks about his 25 Year old friendship with Warren Buffett.

A tale of 2 Annual Letters – A nice comparison of letters written by Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett

Do you need a checklist for investing? Here is a 9-point checklist for value investors.

 

In Last 30 days on Stable Investor

As Indian markets continue their upward journey, the valuations seem to be getting out of hand. The reason is absence of earnings growth, which many expect is just round the corner. Surprisingly, just a day after I wrote Are Indian Stock Markets Overvalued, the markets corrected a little more than what people were comfortable with. 😉

‘The goal isn’t to become the richest family in town. Rather, the goal is to have enough to lead the life we want. If this makes sense to you then you will enjoy reading this interview of a person, who has written 1008+ personal finance articles for Wall Street Journal.

PPF is one of the most popular tax saving option for Indians. So, I decided to do an analysis of historical PPF rate changes and how things might change in future. If you invest in PPF, you might want to read this one.

Making your money work for you is easier said than done. But you have to start somewhere if you want to achieve financial freedom someday.

Wealthy.in thought that I deserved to be interviewed. Here is the transcript of the interview – if you are interested.

 

From the Archives

5 / 25 – How this simple rule can sort your life out!

Tired of spending money on repeated purchases (of certain items like TV, etc.)? Here is a Cheat sheet for automatically saving for Future Repeat Purchases.

To pay off your loans or to invest is the question.

Do you invest in mutual funds and think that principles of value investing are only applicable to stocks and not mutual funds? Here is how you can become a Value Investor even when investing in mutual funds.

If you have to choose just one investment book to read in your entire life, then it has to be Intelligent Investor. Here are 37 remarkable quotes from this book.

 

Books I Read (or Re-Read) Recently

  1. Zero To One
  2. My Gita
  3. Thinking Fast & Slow 

 

A Random Thought

At the start of 2016, a good friend of mine set himself a target – to read a new book every week of 2016. So that meant that by the end of this year, he would have read 52 books!

Initially, I also wanted to participate in that challenge. After all, I love reading and have always had trouble finding time to read. So this challenge was a good excuse to read a lot of books.

But I decided against following such a strict regime (even though somewhere inside me, I wanted to do it).

I love reading. And its not just about becoming wiser or more knowledgeable. Its also about – just reading. It gives me immense pleasure to sit down, relax and just read. I don’t rush while reading. I am no speed-reader. By putting pressure on myself to read 52 books a year, I would have converted reading into a chore – which would have been really sad.

So ofcourse, I have read much fewer books this year than I would have read had I stuck to one-book-a-week plan. But I would rather read few books slowly than rush through many books. Its about the choice. And this is what I prefer.

But having said that, some kind of compulsion is necessary to build a habit. Instead of 1 book a week, maybe doing 25 pages a day is more workable.

I don’t know what routine suits me. Sometimes I don’t read for weeks. At other times, I can devour 3-4 books in a week. May be, I should just read as and when I can. I am sure I will still be alive and doing just fine. 🙂

Note – You can read the third edition of Mid Monthly here.

Book Giveaway – Buffett’s Birthday Celebrations – Results

Warren Buffett Birthday Result

The result of the Book Giveaway to celebrate Warren Buffett’s birthday is out.

The participation was huge – as can be seen from the number of comments on this post and on Twitter and Facebook. But I had to choose one amongst so many and so..

The winner is…. Harshdeep Mehta.

Congratulations Harshdeep!

I am sending you a confirmation mail (on the email id provided by you). Please revert within next 7 days with an Indian address, so that I can send you the book.

Note – Winner has been randomly selected from eligible ones.

To everybody else – I thank you for participating in this. If I had my ways, I would have sent the prize to each and every one of you. But alas… I am no Buffett. 😉

So cheers to his good health and thank you once again to all of you!

Free Book Giveaway – Warren Buffett’s Birthday Celebrations!

Updated on 7th September 2016 – Will announce the winner today.

My lord (Warren Buffett) is celebrating his 86th birthday. Cheers!

So to celebrate the occasion, I am giving away ONE new book – ‘The Snowball’ to the winner of this dead simple giveaway.

Warren Buffett Birthday

The book is one of my favorites. It talks about various aspects of Buffett’s life – many of which were earlier unknown to most people. So if you are a Buffett fan and still haven’t read this book, this is your chance.

Contest Period

00:00 Hrs on 30th August   to   23:59 Hrs on 6th September

 

How to Win?

Do either or all of these 3 things:

1 – Leave a comment at the end of this post (‘Happy birthday Warren’ or anything you want)

OR / AND

2 – Leave a comment on this Facebook post, like it and share it with your friends.

OR / AND

3 – Leave a comment on this Twitter status – and Follow & Retweet.

 


Remember, leaving a comment is mandatory. But what you comment will not be judged. 😉 So just comment.

Each of these three actions will give you 1 entry into the contest. If you perform all 3 actions, then you have 3 entries (which means higher chances of winning).

Also, only ONE winner will be chosen from all those who take any of the above 3 listed actions. I will announce the winner on 7th September.

So pray for Mr. Buffett’s good health and participate in this giveaway. 🙂

T&C – Winner has to provide an Indian address for delivery of the book.