Today I have a guest post from Rajat who just started his blog, The Amateur Investor (Honestly, I can’t believe someone didn’t already have that domain). Rajat has a pretty cool story and asked to post about investing – something I will never pretend to know enough about. Money Life Wax is all about familiarizing people with ways to save money, pay off debt and plan for the future.
One of the best ways to plan for the future? Invest! Enjoy the guest post today and give his site a click right here!
My name is Rajat Gogia and I currently work as a Management Consultant. I have been married for 6 years to my beautiful wife Phoebe and we have a 2-year-old daughter Aurora, with a second baby on the way. Phoebe is a Philly girl, where as I was born and raised in India. The past 6 years has been quite the roller coaster ride. I moved to the US, got married, bought a house, learned golf (8 hcp), became a landlord, became a father and now I have become a blogger.
For some of these things, I could prepare myself better than others. Some I had to learn on the fly. For example, I saw videos on how to change a diaper but I still got the sheets dirty on the first couple of attempts. The video didn’t account for the sudden movements of the baby. Rest assured after two years I am a pro. Not being born in the United States, I had to learn new jokes, no one told me that jokes don’t immigrate well. I can now time “That’s what she said” jokes perfectly.
The Art & Science of Investing is easy to learn.
How hard is it to learn about investing? Not hard at all. In fact, I highly recommend spending time to learn more about it. The rewards are worth your time. Think about all the things that you have learned in your personal everyday lives, learning investing is no different. The only reason we feel like investing is difficult is because there is way too much chatter about it everywhere. There are 24X7 TV channels who want to analyze every tiny little thing that happens.
Always remember, experts do that because it’s their job and not because the information is actually useful for investing.
Over 40% of Americans don’t invest, not even in 401K plans. There are two reasons for this:
- Lack of Perspective
- Fear of losing money
Lack of Perspective
Warren Buffet & Charlie Munger are my guru’s. Everything that I have learned about investing is from them and not from my MBA in finance. In fact, when I started following them I had to unlearn things that I had learned in school. Warren explains that when you buy a stock don’t think that you are buying a piece of paper, think that you are buying a business. He further recommends that one shouldn’t look at the share price when evaluating a business, rather look at how much you will have to pay if you were buying the entire business.
Thinking like this is a complete game changer. It makes investing logical rather than some financial mambo jumbo that only professionals can do. Look at some of the businesses that you are a regular customer of and find out how that business has done in last 5, 10, 15 years. I promise that you will start to see investing opportunities in these businesses. Charlie Munger said that when Berkshire Hathaway makes an investing decision they look at 4 things:
- Do we understand the economies of the business?
- Does the business have sustainable competitive advantage?
- Is the management good?
- Is the price, right?
He further quipped that they don’t teach these things in school because if they did then what would they teach for the rest of the semester.
Fear of losing money
Fear of losing money through investing is real, however, it shouldn’t be so great that it stops you from investing altogether. Similar to what Josh said in his Amateur Investing Made Simple post, fear when applied intelligently to investing should make you a smart investor. Fear stems from lack of knowledge. But in today’s day and age knowledge is a mere click away.
You can read, watch videos, listen to podcasts, whatever medium you like you can use to educate yourself. Get into a habit of reading a newspaper, reading annual reports, listening to conference calls. Doing these things will not only make you a smart investor but it will make you a smarter shopper as well. You will learn about different tactics that businesses use to make us spend money with them.
If you are thinking of starting to invest, I recommend these two actions:
- Open an account with Vanguard and start investing in a low-cost S&P 500 fund
- Start reading
- Start with reading the business section of Wall Street journal. They always have one or the other promotion going
- Read annual reports of some of the businesses that you are a customer of
- Develop basic understanding on how to read a balance sheet, cash flow & income statement
Do these two things consistently for 6 months and you will start to identify investing opportunities. I will leave you will some of things that Charlie Munger has said about the importance of reading. Happy Investing!
“In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn’t read all the time — none, zero,” says Munger.
“I’ve gotten paid a lot over the years for reading through the newspapers.”
“By regularly reading business newspaper and magazines I am exposed to an enormous amount of material at the micro level. I find that what I see going on there pretty much informs me about what’s happening at the macro level.”
“Warren and I do more reading and thinking and less doing than most people in business. We do that because we like that kind of a life. But we’ve turned that quirk into a positive outcome for ourselves. We both insist on a lot of time being available almost every day to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. We read and think.”
“I met the towering intellectuals in books, not in the classroom, which is natural. I can’t remember when I first read Ben Franklin. I had Thomas Jefferson over my bed at seven or eight. My family was into all that stuff, getting ahead through discipline, knowledge, and self-control.”
Thanks for the post Rajat and one more time, go visit The Amateur Investor or show some comment love below! Stay tuned for Thursday’s post where I detail how my wife and I paid off $57,000 in student loans in 2017!!!!