lördag 24 september 2016

Step 2: Expectations and mindset when investing

man reading a business newspaper

This is step 2 of my private economy, saving and investing series. Be sure to read the other posts as well:

Step 1: Stabilize your economy
Step 2: Expectations and mindset
Step 3: Index funds

Now we have done some ground work.
An automated savings plan is in place and a buffer is filled for the rainy day. So whats next?
By now you might have noticed that the ordinary savings account has a pretty low interest rate, if at all. It has become more and more common for 0% interest rates on savings accounts.

For us it was a deal with the bank to start an investment account to get a better interest rate on our house loan.
We did not know much about how the capital market worked when we signed the deal, only what we picked up in the news and movies. The popular cultural view includes

  • A lot of trading. Movies love day-traders and Wall Street corruption. Buy! Sell! Follow the markets up and downs.
  • Speculation and the quest of finding the next big winner. In my ears this sounds like a lot of work and a high risk.
  • Small daily variations in trade make big head-lines in financial news. But then again, real journalism seems to be hard to find these days.
  • The market always has the correct pricing due to the volume of trade.
  • Stocks are just numbers that can be statistically analysed.
  • Stock picking is everything there is to it.
The first book on the subject that I read was The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham and the biggest eye-opener for me was the notion that when you buy into stock of a certain company, you actually own a certain part of that company. If your company does well, it will pay you back, if it goes bad it will not.
The strangest thing is that I never thought of that before. The abstraction of a share has taken over.

Definition of the word Invest.

"To commit (money) in order to earn a financial return"
-merriam-webster.com

"Put (money) into financial schemes, shares, property, or a commercial venture with the expectation of achieving a profit."
-oxforddictionaries.com

"To put money, effort, time, etc. into something to make a profit or get an advantage"
-dictionary.cambridge.org

The investing options discussed on this blog follow these definitions. The common idea is to put money or time into something and expect a return on that investment in the form of money.
Many people think of their house or apartment as an investment but in my mind the money you put into your house is in a very grey area, even if you make a profit when you sell it you will still need somewhere to live.. Buying an house and renovating it and then reselling for a profit is a investment. Your home should not be. If you earn some extra cash on moving, see it as a bonus and put it into your investment plan.

Don't expect to get rich fast, it will take time but in the long run if you stick to the plan you will start to get returns that in the end will blow your mind.

Mr Market

Grahams famous allegory of Mr Market goes something like this: once you become a shareholder you will start to get daily visits by Mr. Market with a price quote on your shares. But some times the quote is ridiculous and it is up to you to either trade with him or not. It does not matter if you do or not, because if you are still a shareholder the next day, he will come back. Mr Market listens closely to every piece of information and follows every lead when setting the price tag on a share.
Lets fast forward to present time, today Mr Market comes to visit more frequently. He pretty much comes multiple times per hour if we let him. But it is still you, the shareholder, who must either accept his offer to trade (either buy or sell) or not to.

Day-traders continuously negotiate with Mr Market and trade with him multiple times per day to gain a profit. They do not look at their shares as parts of a real physical business but more like paper with a price-tag on them. In my mind, this is a very high risk game and the only real winner is Mr Broker.

Introducing Mr Broker

Where Mr Market is the provider, I like to see Mr Broker as the pusher. He wants you to do business with Mr Market.
Mr Broker is the guy you call each time you want to trade with Mr Market. He does all the paperwork and takes a small fee for the favor. In the end, if you trade a lot, he is the only real winner. Think of it as the house always wins at the casino. So the key is to involve him as little as possible. Mr Broker loves the news and the manic-depressive Mr Market as they increase the amount of trades per day. Mr Broker is a very very rich guy.

One of the things with Mr Market that Graham left out of his allegory is that he is a pretty bad guy, not only does he have manic-depressive traits, he is also a stalker. Even if you sell every share that you own to him on one day, he will come back the next. And continue to do so. Meaning that you will have a pretty good picture of if the decision you made was a good one or a bad one.

Grahams strategy to battle Mr Market is to diversify your holding. Meaning that you buy into businesses in different fields, that are undervalued by Mr Market and when they rise a little you sell them back to him for a profit. And you continue to do so until you get rich one step at a time.
In my mind this requires a lot of work even though the risks are quire small.
Or you could just buy into an index-fund that is built to automatically mimic a certain markets index. This is what I did when I started out. More on that in a later post.

In conclusion.

If you get into investing with the mindset that shares are owner certificates for a businesses you will probably have a better outset than most. View yourself as an owner and read up on their business instead listening of the wild speculations done by news, media and the market in general. Take your time to read a report or two, perhaps even go to an annual meeting, and only engage in a trade with Mr Market on your own terms and limit the number of trades so that Mr Broker doesn't steal your profit.
If you do not want to do that, then stick with Grahams diversification plan and buy into an index fund with a low fee whenever you have a nice sum of money to put away.

Continue to the next step: Index funds

Disclaimer. I am in no way an expert on capital management or investing. On this blog I only wish to share my findings, ideas and comments on current events and fields that interest me. I hope that my thoughts can entertain you. I expect that everyone reading take their time and do their own research before acting on anything read on this blog. Investing is not for everyone. E&OE.

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