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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Your unit trust doesn’t cost you 1.7% a year it costs you R15 897 a month you fool!

Happy Easter, don't let the bad fish eat all your chocolate

Happy Easter, don’t let the bad fish eat all your chocolate

If you’re thinking that title sounds familiar you’d be right. Once upon a time I wrote an article based on real people called “Your car doesn’t cost you R5800 p/m it costs you a million dollars you fool“. One of those people was my wife, the other, someone I worked with. This didn’t have a good outcome. In the first case, even though I mentioned how both my wife and her Mini had rather sexy rear ends, she wasn’t happy at being used as an example, and promptly let me know that.

In the second case my use of pseudonyms for said colleague’s name was insufficient considering there was no use of a pseudocar in the blog post. The very next day after it was published I had an email in my inbox saying “Nice article” with a link to what I wrote. I felt anything but nice, especially due to the fact that the fast car loving colleague was a person I quite liked, and wasn’t actually remotely a fool, he was simply an Audi nut.

Thanks to that experience, I’ve learnt my lesson on using family and friends as examples. It’s not worth the risk of upsetting a friend or sleeping on the couch. That’s why this post isn’t about a family member. It’s almost certainly also not about a friend. Maybe. Let’s just say it’s about a fictional character named Art. And no Art isn’t short for Arthur, Bartholomew or Stuart. In fact he doesn’t even have a name, he’s completely made up. In the same way that criticism of the president is completely racist…

Now fictional Art is quite astute financially. He’s avoided the trap of buying a house far bigger than he needs. He’s actually even avoided the trap of buying a house, and rents instead. Art has also never bought a new car. In fact, he only recently replaced his completely worn out first car with another boring used Japanese sedan.

These things along with a number of other frugal habits passed on from his parents has resulted in Art being able to save quite a lot. Around R10000 a month lately. Thanks to that he’s recently crossed the R1 million milestone in his investment accounts at the relatively young age of 29 and a bit years, something he is rightly very proud of. What’s even more impressive is that Art achieved all that, while swimming upstream. Not just any stream, but a piranha infested one.

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How to achieve financial independence

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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Death spirals in South Africa and what to do about them

Death SpiralsMy wife is very persuasive. Somehow she managed to overturn my one foreign holiday per year policy this year. Actually she’s done it two years in a row. Last year we had our fantastic bike trip through 5 European countries, and then a few months later we were off to Mozambique for her sisters wedding.

For the last two weeks we’ve been traveling through Chile and Argentina, and we’ve already booked our return flights to go to Portugal and Spain in September. Fortunately we don’t really throw much money away on other luxuries, otherwise we’d be totally broke. Plus, with my recent shock realisation that my imported dress collecting better half did in fact out-save me last year, I thought I’d better not argue.

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