Wednesday, February 9, 2011

diversity... for real this time.

While betting all your money on the longshot horse looks good in hindsight (provided the longshot actually won) it's better to look with a broader focus when it comes to investing your hard earned dollars/euros/food-stamps.  Rather than trying to play the odds my approach is also not without risk, but it stands a much better chance of picking the winner.

So where is this crystal/magic 8 ball that I get my ideas from?  Actually it's easier than that.  If you want to bet on the ponies fine... but try something considerably less exciting than the $100 long-shot.  (because 400:1 odds says 399 losses and 1 win... maybe.  The only guarantee: if you don't bet, you keep your $100, but you have a 100% chance of winning nothing.)  Yes, the more I try to analogize this, the more circular and obtuse my logic gets.  Perhaps the horse track is a bad example because not much of that industry is a sure thing.  Looking after the horses however is good business.  Stables, training, grooming, feeding and waste removal.  As for investing ideas in this area don't ask me...  This was really just a bloated analogy.

Summary: if you bet everything you have on "one horse" you're a fool.  Mind you you might be thinking I'm hypocritical because since your starting small you might only be starting with one position.  But if you started with a Canadian big bank, then you're not betting on "one horse" so to speak.  But you're betting on approximately 1/5th of ALL of the business in Canada.  So that doesn't even seem like a bet any more does it?

Also, it helps in the beginning if you buy things that pay dividends and distributions.  Why?  Since you might not have much income for investing, the investments give you some which you can re-invest into something else, or withdraw and spend frivolously on a 24h bender or that big TV you always wanted.

Note: This is perhaps somewhat a contrarian view as 99% of "professional investment advisers" will say you should buy mutual funds and go for capitol gains when you first start investing as a young man/woman/thing.  There are 2 reasons they advise this: fully managed accounts generally do not charge commissions on mutual fund purchases so you can buy them in small amounts.  (Like your $25 a week)  AND mutual fund companies pay your adviser through what's called a "trailing return."  I like to think of this more of a bribe since they are stealing your money to get your adviser to recommend their product.  But since you already read my rant about mutual funds I'm hoping you generally stay away from most of them.  (Some are good... some are fantastic!  It's just hard to know what actually does do well because historical performance is no guarantee the fund will do well next week.)

Next time: why I like what I like

Disclaimer: if I'm your only source of investment advice then please stop now.  Go back home and put your pennies back in your sock drawer.  My advise may lose you money (in the short term if you panic).  The goal of course isn't to lose money and you have to stick with it.  My recommendations are a 40+ year commitment.  Which is hell I know since you still are dealing with discovering what is a "need" and what is a "want" and you're still dealing with a healthy dose of youthful stupidity.  Please I beg you, plan for tomorrow!  The world isn't going to end any time soon and I don't want you out begging on the street.

Liability: by reading this you MUST accept liability for your own actions.  I can not be held responsible for any actions YOU did.  Do your own research beyond my weekly dose of brow-beatings.  If you lose everything, please check the nearest mirror to establish blame.  If you made some big gains, then great!  Come visit and buy me a drink.  (This is not a requirement... I'm giving you an excuse to party if you need that type of thing)

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