017 – Why do we do some things the same old, inefficient way? Even when we know better?

I should be looking for better things to do tonight, but I just can’t be bothered!

tvOffI’ve been reading a lot about economics and why we seem to do things that to an outsider seem inefficient, or somewhat insane from a financial point of view.

One of the major contributors to a wasteful lifestyle, is Inertia.  Doing things purely because you’ve always done it that way, even if there is a better or more efficient way of doing it.

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016 – Quality of life NOW vs LATER

I want that shiny thing NOW, not LATER (not even SOON!)

marshmallowsWhenever I try and talk to people about curbing their spending to increase their savings and investments, I routinely get this response:

“It’s all about quality of life though, isn’t it?  I’d rather buy and do things now when I’m healthy, rather than regretting not doing it when I’m old, and can’t.”

This statement sometimes makes me want to bang their heads together.

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015 – What is Financial Risk? How do I manage it?

What is Financial Risk, and why do I care?

risk-game-of-global-dominationRisk is the potential that an action (or inaction) will lead to a loss.

Reward is the potential that an action (or inaction) will lead to a gain.

Everything in life carries risk and rewards.  If I slump on the sofa every night, I risk bad health, but I might get to watch some quality TV shows (unlikely, but hey, it’s only an analogy!).  When I cross the road, I might get run over, but I might get to the lovely beach on the other side.  When I buy a used car, it might have something seriously wrong, or it might run ok for the next 20 years.

From the financial perspective, the higher the risk, the higher the potential reward.

Low risk/low reward: Savings accounts (Santander are doing a pretty good account at the moment), fixed period savings accounts.

Moderate risk/moderate reward: Tracker funds (Vanguard UK Equity Index).

High risk/high reward: Penny stocks, initial offering shares (Facebook shares on day 1 of trading for example!).

So when you are deciding where to put your hard earned employees to work, you have to sit down and do a cost/benefit analysis, by comparing the risks to the rewards.

I know this is pretty basic stuff, but I don’t apologise for reminding you if you already know, or at least making you do some more reading if you haven’t really thought enough about risk before! (more…)

014 – Virtual currency – BitCoins as investments or just for buying pizza?

Well, did you know that someone once paid over $1,000,000 for 2 pizzas?

bitcoin-wood

image from siliconangle.com

To be fair, he actually payed 10,000 Bitcoins, which at the time were valued at around $40, and he had ‘mined’ them himself using his computer to generate the money in the first place.

Bitcoins are now becoming an accepted part of a global financial system, being used to pay for pizza, coffee, electronics, illegal drugs, and even houses!  One Bitcoin is currently worth around £80, but back in 2010, a new digital currency had just emerged from it’s 50+ year gestation in the womb of the interwebz, and web dwellers were swapping them in huge numbers for every day objects in order to help get the market going.  Those 10,000 Bitcoins were worth about half a cent each.  If he had held on to them, he would be sitting on a potential $1,200,000+ today.

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012 – A lazy man’s guide to investments

‘Shimple Investing

meerkatInvest in diversified passively managed funds.  As Alexander says: “Shimples”.

Studies have shown that, on average, actively managed funds cost more, and produce less, than the market index itself.  Some are lucky, but in fact even a moggy can do better than a professional investor.

Pick several diversified passive funds, the ones with the lowest management fees, with the least correlation you can get, and then look at them once a month, tops.  Every year, rebalance your portfolio by selling the funds that are performing, and buy the ones that aren’t (seriously!).  When I first started learning about investing I got all excited about trying to pick the hottest new company, and wasted a lot of money (but gained valuable lessons) hopping around, buying and selling unnecessarily.

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011 – How Much Does Money Cost?

Money costs money… obvious, nay?

coinsUnfortunately not!  I recently discovered that quite a few people don’t actually understand (not through want of trying, just a lack of financial education), that money does indeed cost money, and how exactly that cost is broken down when it comes to loan repayments (mortgage or otherwise).

Case in point: Borrowing £10k, at 10% APR, for 10 years.

Now, we could do a really rough and basic calculation and say that at the end of the year, the £10k I owe to the bank has increased by 10%, to £11k, so I would have to pay the bank £1,000 over the year, just to pay off the interest!  But I also need to pay off the principal (the original £10k) or I would never be able to pay the loan off.

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009 – Do I overpay my mortgage?

Is it better to overpay your mortgage, or invest the extra savings from your frugal lifestyle?

mortgage-over-payment

I have been asked this question quite a few times over the last few weeks… and as always my advice is YES of course you should and NO you need to pay your higher interest debts first!  So, run the numbers for your own situation, and make an intelligent assessment of your current expenditure, you can even use my rather rough and ready mortgage overpayment calculator.

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008 – The £8,671 cup of coffee

The most expensive cup of coffee I ever bought.

goldcupI used to buy AT LEAST 1 cup of coffee a day from the little shop at work.  It was only £2.95 for a large… bargain!  There was even a kettle, sink and fridge about 20 metres from my desk, but it was more social to nip to the coffee shop and chill out there for 10 mins with some of my colleagues.  Plus, I was lazy.

I have decided from now on to do all of my saving/investment calculations using 10 and 20 year returns… so:

1 cup of coffee for each working day of the year = £2.95 x 228, which is £689.42 per year.  By investing this monthly, I would earn £16.82 interest that first year.

After 10 years of compound interest, I would have £8,671 (£1,794 in interest alone!).  The coffees would have cost me £6,726, so I’m better off by £15,397.

After 20 years, it’s £22,796!! (better off by £36,248).

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007 – Peer to peer lending

Why the banks should be afraid of peer to peer lending!

Piggy-bank-IOU

I mentioned person to bank to person/business lending in an earlier post, and I have been experimenting with removing the bank from that process, putting my own money where my mouth is and hopefully letting you know about any pitfalls that the lending sites might be keeping quiet about!  So, peer to peer / business lenders:

Fundingcircle.com is for peer-business lending.

“Funding Circle is an on-line marketplace to help businesses find low cost loans quickly and investors get better returns. There are no middlemen, no banks, and no lengthy delays. By directly connecting people who want to invest money with vetted, established businesses who want to borrow money, we eliminate the cost and complexity of the banking world”

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