The top 7 things I learnt about money in 2017

Welcome to 2018, it’s a new year with new opportunities. Sadly Donald Trump is still the president of the USA, and in South Africa, we still have President Gupta at the helm but hopefully that will all change soon.

When looking ahead to a new year I always like to consider what I learnt in the last, so here are my top 7 money lessons from last year:

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How much difference would it make driving a luxury car vs a cheaper car

Once upon a time there were two boys living in the vibrant city of Johannesburg. The boys were best friends, and did everything together.

Unlike the last time I compared two very similar people these two boys were similar in practically every way. They were both sporty, very smart and both just obtained tech degrees. There was just one difference, Chris absolutely loved cars, while Mike thought they were only fun on his PlayStation.

Now this story is going to have a lot of numbers in it, and as it takes place over a working lifetime, we need to deal with the inflation problem. There are two ways to do this.

  1. The hard way, which means you have to constantly convert back and forth between today’s money and the inflated money. This is a lot of work, and you often end up with numbers which can’t be understood; or
  2. The easy way, to simply take inflation out of the picture. This means you don’t count it in price increases over time, but you also don’t count it in investment returns. It makes the calculations much easier for me, and should make the numbers more meaningful for you. A complete win win for once!

On to the story.

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This couple is retiring at 36 and 46, here’s how they did it

Day tripping near Ubud, Bali

Like many people nearing the end of their working career, Andre and Lisa can’t wait to travel the world when they retire next year. Unlike most though, they won’t be enjoying any pensioner discounts along the way. That’s because Andre will be just 46 years old, and Lisa practically a teenager at 36!

When most people hear this they generally assume that the couple have either inherited money, got a BEE deal, or lived a totally dull life and never left the house so they wouldn’t spend any money. But this couple have had none of that luck, and as you’ll see a little further on and in the slideshow at the bottom of this post, they most definitely haven’t spent their time sitting at home eating beans and rice by candlelight.

Of course I had plenty of questions for them, and thankfully Andre was kind enough to answer, and boy did he answer well.

You’ll want to read this interview!


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Should I stay or should I go now… to a cheaper fund?

Fees, fees and hidden feesDear Investor Challenge,

Even complete fools know that you have to max out your tax free savings account every year. I’ve been doing that for three years now, and I’ve got about 96 000 money babies working for me tax free in my lovely cheap brokerage account! It’s all sitting in the DBX world ETF, but now Satrix have launched their World Developed Markets ETF which gives me the same exposure for MUCH less cost.

To me it makes sense that I should jump into them right away, but Kristia from just one lap says I need to first give it careful consideration. I think she’s quite a smartie pants, but since I’m not, I have no idea what that consideration is.

One thing to note is that I plan to withdraw everything in 15 years when I retire overseas. What should I do? Spend some of the R96 000 to change to a cheaper fund, or hang on to the DBX for the next decade and a half?

Dora the future explorer

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You still invest in South Africa? Hehehe, for what, hehehe?

Considering organised crime

Personally I’d recommend government, they never go to jail

This is not going to be a cheerful topic. We’re in a recession at the moment and there’s very little laughter around. The (no.) 1 person who is laughing isn’t helping cheer us up either. The mood in the country is miserable, David Shapiro from Sasfin Securities says the country is at the lowest level he’s ever seen. There are posts all over the forum complaining about how poor the JSE’s performance has been this year:

“This is a bad bad year…”

“Wow, ArcelorMittal @ R5 level and Lonmin @ R10 Level, Nice ANC nice …”

“It’s mind boggling. Almost as if there’s a committee somewhere who try come up with the most damaging own goals around.”

“Pretty damn sad that an inflation ETF is in the top 6 of the investor challenge. This must be the worst year so far for the challenge.”

“Zuma, Gigaba, PP Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Zwane are competing on who can destroy the SA markets the most. SA market up 1,9% since January while the emerging market index is up 17%”

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EXPOSED: #InvestorChallengeLeaks What Patrick spends in an average month

I do my own stuntsYes it’ll all be revealed soon, but first a story.

In 2009 I had a work trip to Rome. Happily I have a very good friend George who lives in Rome, and I usually stay with him when I’m there. He’s also a keen cyclist like myself, and has a few bikes we use to explore the ancient city using pedal power. I love it.

On this evening, I was due to meet a number of colleagues on their first trip to the city. As I’d been there quite a few times before I offered to show them around, and we agreed to meet that night at the Colosseum metro station. Yes, literally across the road from that great monument is a rather dingy underground station.

As George lived a couple of kilometers away, I decided to cycle in, but just before I could leave another good friend I hadn’t seen in a while arrived, so I had to stay a while and catch up. Eventually I left with only 5 minutes to do 3 kilometers. “Easy” I said while flexing my quadriceps, grabbing the bike and hitting the road.

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How to achieve financial independance

Dear Investor Challenge

I love my job, it’s easily the best thing since the slow motion running scenes on Baywatch. I love the oPamela Anderson Runningffice politics and the free food I get during the endless hours of meetings discussing nothing in particular, and the hours spent behind my desk trying to find the balance between actual productivity and complete boredom.

I’m just scared that eventually I’ll have too much money and won’t need to go in to work every day. Once my wife sees that, she’ll definitely want me to retire, and that will mean I’ll go from being the big man at the office, to replacing her handbag yorkie taking instructions, all day long.

My days will then be spent getting dragged around Mr Price Home trying to decide which of the two identical shades of blue towels would best match our guest bathroom, and cleaning my perfectly disorganised garage so that it has space for the treadmill my wife has recently developed an allergy to.

All this while being called Schmoopie is already too much, but it will also almost certainly mean I won’t be able to get drunk at the annual Christmas party, and flirt with my inappropriately young secretary.

Is there any way I can avoid this disastrous chain of events from becoming a reality?

Schmoopie

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What is the average South African’s biggest expense?

Jeeves bring me my cat foodYes that’s the question folks. What does the average (middle class) South African spend the most money on?

Their house? No but it’s a good guess. Houses are expensive, but this expense can cost you more than your house.

Beer? Boerewors? Biltong? No it’s not one of the 3 B’s either.

The wife? Hopefully not…
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Can you make more money?

Mandela - Money won't create success the freedom to make it willSpeed up your time to financial independence by simply making more money, what a revolutionary idea!

No I’m not here to sell you on some crazy pyramid scheme, in fact I’m going to recommend you completely forget anything related to pyramid schemes or multi-level marketing (MLM) exists, because well researched evidence points to the fact that 99% of participants involved in MLMs lose money. Even if you don’t you’re almost certainly going to annoy your family, and alienate your friends, just don’t do it. Starting one can be very profitable though if you don’t mind the risk of jail time, like this smart lady who managed to convince thousands of people to buy a cheese making kit earning her €145 million…

No, none of that rubbish, just an honest way to earn a few extra Rand so that you have more to save and invest. But first I’ll start off with a statement. It’s far easier to save more than it is to make more. That’s why whenever someone asks how they can get their finances in order, I always recommend they look at the burn side of their budget rather than the earn. It’s something you have complete control over, and in most cases is filled with excess, waste and debt repayments. There’s bound to be some low hanging fruit, so most people can find money to save somewhere. My wife did that last year, and though I still can’t figure out how, she managed to out-save me without even trying. We figured this out weeks ago, and I still get almost daily reminders…

But sometimes trimming the budget isn’t enough to get ahead, and you just need to earn more.

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