It’s all about the timing… Or is it?

In August, my beautiful new wife and I eloped to Paris to have a combo wedding and honeymoon. It was just the two of us, so we didn’t have to worry about what colour the napkins should be. We also didn’t have to worry that mad uncle Eric would drink too much and try join the band, or that someone would knock over the ridiculously ostentatious wedding cake. I was also fairly confident that I wouldn’t end up in a runaway bride skit, because I’m not Richard Gere!

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Can you de-complicate personal finance?

Dear investor Challenge,

Why are your posts always so damn complicated. You keep posting numbers and graphs, but I’m not a numbers girl, unless of course you’re cute in which case my number is 555… Why don’t you come out with some financial advice for dummies like me? I want finance de-complicated.

The names Blonde, Jane Blonde.

Good call miss Blonde. You know, I think this whole industry is built around making people believe finances are only for accounting nerds, or worse, actuaries, but to be quite honest, there’s nothing complicated about it at all. In fact, I’m pretty certain that all the experts and snake oil salesman specifically designed it as a giant smoke screen to keep you thinking it’s complicated so they can keep their high paying jobs, six figure bonuses and holiday homes in Umhlanga, all thanks to the money they take from us while we’re not paying attention. Mark my words, the only interest the majority of financial product sales people have in your wealth, is in how much of it they can transfer to themselves as fees for a service probably badly rendered.

Ignore them. Everything you need to know is so simple anyone can take control of it. So here it is, the three most important rules of personal finance: Continue reading

Can you retire before 40?

I have a great job, but I'd rather be here...

I have a great job, but I’d rather be here…

It all comes down to how much money you need. If you can live on R178 500 a year, or R14 875 a month, then it’s easy. Need more than that? Well if you’re married, you can double that, and more than likely not double your costs. You should hopefully be sharing a room with your spouse, and even if you’re a massive snorer, renting a two bedroom house is still way cheaper than renting two one bedroom houses. Also you can most likely survive with one car post retirement. With all your new free time it would be a good time to start getting around by bicycle. That will also mean you’ll spend far less on health related items. Could you and your significant other live together on R357 000 a year or R29 750 a month? Well you should be able to, after all that’s far more than most South African households live on

So why did I pick those numbers? Continue reading

The Compounding Story of the Doctor and the Model

Anyone for a Hot Doc?

Anyone for a Hot Doc?

Once upon a time there were twin girls living in the beautiful city of Cape Town. While they were twins, they had very different personalities. Alyssa was carefree and adventurous, while Rachael was responsible and level headed. Due to the gift of good genetics, both were also really beautiful, and very smart. So beautiful and so smart, that both were accepted into medical school, and also offered modelling contracts.

Now here’s where the lives of these two girls took a detour. You see Rachael knew that she wouldn’t be able to start modelling and do well at med school, so she decided to focus on her studies, the responsible choice, her family was very proud. Alyssa on the other hand managed to convince her parents that as you only live once, you should take opportunities to go and see what life is all about. And so they went off in their different life paths as soon as school finished. Continue reading

Selfish Old Man disease

Zuma Fire TruckThe world seems to be suffering an epidemic. This epidemic is known as Andro-Parasitic Geriatricus. Commonly known as Selfish Old Man disease.

This disease seems to be on the increase. I believe that patient zero was first noticed in a neighbouring country. The giant festering arsehole life support system to have first shown these symptoms in our region is known as Robert Mugabe. In 2009 Mugabe attended Zuma’s inauguration, where he promptly passed on the disease to our own steaming pile of horse manure President, the not so honourable Jacob Zuma.

Then in 2010 the after South Africa, armed with a briefcase full of hundred dollar bills, were granted the rights to hold the football world cup, Zuma was re-infected with another strain of APG from a certain Septic Bladder. Continue reading

Let’s all be guilty of tax avoidance

Tax evasionTax evasion is illegal, and will quite likely have you ending up with free accommodation. Sadly while free sounds great, it’s not quite the case when your roommate is a rather hefty heavily tattooed guy named Bubba. And Bubba likes you, a lot! Instead, bypass tax evasion and focus on tax avoidance. I highly encourage it. What’s the difference you might ask? To put it simply, one ends up with you behind bars, the other leaves you with more in your pocket to visit bars. In other words, tax evasion is doing something illegal to not pay taxes while tax avoidance is doing something legal to not pay taxes. Companies pay experts very large sums of money to help them tread this very fine line, saving them even larger sums of money in tax.

Now you might think that this is morally wrong, after all we live in a country that needs our taxes. Figures in a 2013 study indicated that just 3.3 million taxpayers are paying 99% of South Africa’s taxes, so is it right for these 3.3 million to try reduce the amount paid? Continue reading

F-You Money

Keep calm and double my salaryApparently I’ve been getting people a little down with blogs on how much money is tossed aside because we like to have nice things, or because we do stupid things. After my last blog I got sent a message from Moneypenny “Now, for your next blog write about something that is not only a good investment but good for the soul (fun) as well.” Challenge accepted. This one is for you Moneypenny.

I’d been working for just under two years when I asked my boss for a quick chat. “I’d like 50% more pay, and an extra 5 days leave every year, otherwise I’m out of here”. I was quick and to the point. He had a sly grin on his face. “Excellent” he said, “let’s go run it past the director and see how he feels”.

I started my first job in matric, grade 12 for you young’uns, waiting tables at the only Baron in Pretoria. It was fun, earning a few thousand a month, while getting free food and an endless offering of dates from mildly inebriated women. There was also the brief stint as a fast food delivery driver, which was a lot easier, but far less profitable. At least I got to snack on the customers food when I was hungry. If you do order from one of the delivery places, and the guy uses a car to deliver, don’t ever expect to get your full quota of chips. You may lose a tasty chicken nugget in the process too. Continue reading

The last house I’ll ever own…

Mogadishu

Luxury accomodation on the warm indian ocean, going so cheaply you wouldn’t believe it. Come view now… in Mogadishu!

I’ve written before about how I’m really not a fan of a buy to let property as an investment, but what about a buy to live in property? Luckily for you, I’ve done that before too. In the last property article I mentioned the house with a built-in hole in the back yard for pouring cash into. Well now having just sold the property I can provide some real numbers to answer that question.

The numbers: Continue reading

And the winner is…

Be patient, I’ll tell you in a minute after I build up the suspense and drag this post out longer than the Grammy awards shows.

Anyway, 2014 is behind us, the second year of the competition and the first in which you could sell shares. This obviously meant that there was a little wiggle room for people to break the system. To stop this, initially all shares trading less than 16 times a day, and with a value of at least one rand. That kind of worked, but one smart guy realised that it was possible to make huge profits by using live prices on a trading account to get that 15 minute advantage over everyone else. Fortunately he was honest about it, and allowed us to reset his account. It also created a lot of work for me to put the prices in pending mode now, so that if someone does use live pricing, he’ll have his advantage removed 15 minutes later when the prices update themselves.

So let’s check up on how the market did last year… Continue reading

How much do habits cost me?

Money can't buy you happiness but it can buy you a jetskiIt seems like the cost of something is an easy question to answer. A loaf of bread costs R13, tyres for your car are R800 each and a box of Marlboro are R34. But being an investor, we know that costs aren’t just the sticker price, but also the loss of future income that money would have earned you. Killing some money means that you kill any future money babies (yes Steve I prefer Nedbank’s advertising, though your fees are better…) it would have had too.

So as we all want to be higher grade smartypants’ it’s a good idea to come up with ways to work out what things really cost. Continue reading