It’s a question I have thought about for a long time and a lot lately. I haven’t suffered. I first realized it objectively.
I read about suffering in the biographies of great founders and celebrities. The true greats come from poverty or have won battles against personal demons.
That’s not me.
How does my life experience compare to these personal struggles that I read about?
I was born healthy and raised in a strong family by supportive parents.
Use my slow travel planner to create your perfect getaway. Unplug from work, speed up your retirement travels, and expand your mind too.
This is a two-part blog.
Post 1 makes the case that we Americans should imitate European vacations. We need to take off one full month each year. To do so, you may need to own a micro-business, which I advocate as part of my Idols Framework for building wealth.
April’s Fast Follow Investor (FFI) trades increased my stock ownership by 20%. I added 10% to international stocks and 10% to U.S. high-tech stocks.
I could try to explain why high tech is trending up, but I won’t try. Because it doesn’t matter. Instead, I’ll follow the model. It’s like buy & hold passive index investing: you gotta stick with it!
The Fast Follow Investor portfolio on April 1, 2023 (approx.
Holding cash can be a strategic investment move! Cash helps you take advantage of market downturns. With cash, you can shop for value when others are selling at a loss. Look no further than Warren Buffett for how to take advantage of this strategy. Imagine your cash savings like a red fox standing watch over a gopher hole. It stays there quiet…for an excruciatingly long time. Then, at a moment’s notice, when the gopher’s head surfaces…it pounces!
Buy & hold is a well-known, well-documented investment strategy. It works, and I include it as one part of the Idols Framework for building wealth. But, you must be judicious in how you use it. I recently heard the story of David & Goliath as told by Malcolm Gladwell in his 2013 Ted Talk. His talk flips the classic story on its head and proves that Goliath was the underdog. What?
Last night, I watched Roadrunner, one of many great Anthony Bourdain documentaries. It is a tragic story. But, strangely, I finished it feeling inspired.
Tony was troubled but intensely driven. He did so much for the poor and underrepresented of the world. And he did it because he wanted to. He traveled the world. But he started first when shooting “A Cook’s Tour” in 2001 when he was 46 years old.
Buy the dip? No. Dollar-cost average? Maybe. This is a case study in second-level thinking. Responding to the COVID crash You were 44 years old. It was Apr 1, 2020, and in March, the stock market crashed. The S&P 500 stood at 2,470. It was down 20% from its high four months earlier.
You knew stocks offered the best return, and it’s exciting to get them on the cheap. In fact, in the last 10 years, the S&P grew by 3.
Use these 3 strategies to shave 70% off your supposed retirement savings. Your retirement savings target (your “number”) is less than you think you need.
In 2019, personal finance guru Suze Orman announced you need $5 Million to live a happy retirement.
That’s wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Very wrong.
Suze is misinforming those of us working hard to achieve financial independence.
In this post, I will show you how to shave $3.
“In like a lion, out like a lamb” (hopefully) -Old Farmer’s Alamanac (except the hopefully part)
This weather folklore stems from ancestral beliefs in balance. If the weather at the start of March is bad (roaring, like a roaring lion), the month should end with good weather (gentle, like a lamb).
Let’s also hope that is the case for the Fast Follow Investor portfolio. This month’s changes My portfolio changes as of March 1, 2023:
The 4% Rule is a dangerous myth based on a faulty premise. Ignore Safe Withdrawal Rate (SWR) and maximize Perpetual Withdrawal Rate (PWR) to enjoy 50+ years of financial freedom. Why do we save? For nearly all of us, we save for retirement income later in life.
We use the 4% rule to estimate how much we can withdraw each year of a 30-year retirement. We use 3.5% if we plan to retire early.
How takeout and a sitter can lead to deeper connection, more wealth, and a life with purpose. My wife and I sat in a church basement completing worksheets of chores we would each do when married. It was then that we identified our key to a happy marriage: a dishwasher. Thank goodness for this marriage preparedness class!
We married in 2001. Both 25 years old, we had no grand plan for what life together would look like.
Second-level thinking is a form of deep learning that can help you develop an edge. I call this principle “Think Again”, and it is foundational to smart investors.
In his book, The Most Important Thing, Howard Marks explains it:
Whereas first-level thinking is simplistic and superficial, and everyone can do it, second-level thinking is deep, complex, and convoluted.
Search Youtube for Howard Marks-Second Level Thinking.
I offer my thesis, the “Idols Framework for wealth creation”, for your review. Calling for 25% Buffett, 25% Walton, 25% Bogle, and 25% Thorpe, it’s a recipe for you to absorb, adopt, and adapt.
I have refined my formula for smart wealth creation in the last five years. Is it a secret formula? No. Is it prescriptive or one-size-fits-all? No, and no.
But, the formula has merit. And I wish I had known it earlier.
Every blog or website should feature an “About You” page.
When writing for an audience, experts instruct us to niche down. “Write for a very small audience, one that you understand deeply.” A narrow and deep niche helps us provide worthy advice.
Don’t try to be everything to everyone. It’s the rule behind the wonderful 1000 true fans model for creators. The recipe:
Discover yourself and your passion.
Ed Thorpe is a mathematical genius, but his approach to life is what most impresses me.
Ed Thorpe is a beacon to me. I finished his autobiography last week. He offers a great personal blueprint for living your life. If these highlights inspire you, I urge you to read the entire book. Ed has so much to offer.
I had not known of Ed Thorpe until 2021. He is the first modern mathematician to investigate risk and achieve great financial success doing so.
Here is my monthly process Trigger: At 4PM Eastern, the market closes on the last trading day of the month.
Immediately, my FastFollowInvestor.com (FFI) model* identifies those investments to add to or reduce. At 5PM Eastern, I email my investment changes** to friends and colleagues. That night, I have a (working) dinner date with my wife. We use a spreadsheet to calculate buy/sell trades in our investment accounts to match the model.
Economists say humans are rational and emotionless investors. Wrong! Humans are highly emotional, and it hurts our portfolios. The good news is that we can train ourselves to become more levelheaded investors. Take these 3 specific actions… On December 9, I shared my December 2022 trades. International markets trended up in November. So, at the direction of the Fast Follow Investor (FFI) model, I moved ~50% of my portfolio from cash to international equities.
Tactical Asset Allocation (TAA) adds strong diversification alongside a Buy & Hold investment strategy. I compare the two strategies and highlight their differences.
In my 20s, I consulted for Accenture out of its Milwaukee office. One highlight of working at a big firm in the late 90s was the sometimes extravagant employee perks.
The greatest perk took place one day in October every year. To reward us for a job well-done, Accenture leadership would rent out Six Flags Great America… in its entirety.
On January 3, my Fast Follow Investor (FFI) model made some portfolio adjustments: January 2023 Allocations ~35% International equities (tickers SCZ, VGK) ~25% Gold and commodities (tickers GLD, DBC) ~40% Cash A “Santa Rally” never materialized, and December was a down month for U.S. equities. The S&P 500 was down over 2.5%. The Nasdaq ended down almost 5%. Fortunately, I held only a 3.3% position in U.S. equities.
Today is my birthday!
I am made fun of for broadening its celebration. My birthday becomes my “birthday weekend”, my “birthday week”, and even my “birthday month”. I don’t know why I do this. I just love my birthday.
Birthdays are wonderful days to reflect on your life: What have I accomplished? Who am I now?
I’d love to tell you about my “Marissa Mayer Moment”.
In July 2012, I was six months into a new job.
Spend one weekend alone to make plans for a full and well-intentioned life. In 2022, I spent a December weekend in Alameda’s beautiful Gold Coast neighborhood. What started during Covid-19 as a need for some “me time” has become an important, life planning event.
Some do it at the turn of the year. Others do it close to their birthday. My birthday is January 8, so I guess I do both!
In the past 40 years, we’ve seen only two types of U.S. economy. A new and different economy could be right around the corner. What is it?
If you’re familiar with San Franciso, you’re familiar with microclimates.
On a summer day, it may be 55 deg. in the City, 75 deg. in Alameda (where I live), and 95. deg in Concord (where my son goes to school).
It’s no wonder that the #1 memento for a San Francisco tourist is a sweatshirt.
Humans are not wired to think long-term; yet it’s required to invest well. Eddie Izzard, of stand-up, film, and TV fame, quips that:
“He grew up in Europe, where the history comes from.”
Like Eddie, I find it difficult for Americans to grasp “long-term”. We’re a young country. Our history is short. It’s not a bad thing… simply a fact.
Later in his bit, Eddie cites a story on TV during a recent hotel stay:
If you’re curious, here’s my thinking about the name and logo (or should I say mascot). Fast Follower Technology The “fast follower” in the name stems from the technology strategy.
A fast follower is not an innovator.
But when innovation takes off, the fast follower quickly jumps in.
The master of this is Microsoft. Its success speaks for itself.
Microsoft has been in the top 3 in market capitalization for over 20 years.
This month’s trades are in!
On December 1, my Fast Follow Investor model made some big moves:
December 2022 Allocations ~50% International equities (tickers SCZ, EFA, VGK) ~25% Gold and commodities (tickers GLD, DBC) ~25% Cash My head and my heart tell me this is a precarious time to "get back in". But the market and the model disagree. “When it comes time to buy and it’s the right time, you will not want to.