Books I read in 1H 2018

2018 turned out to be a great year for knowledge building by reading a wide variety of books. I took a conscientious decision in 2017 to quit some social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and whittling away overusage of Twitter. I still see a lot of value in Twitter, so I find it hard to quit completely — especially since I get to connect with some brilliant people and have/follow interesting ideas and conversations in an easily digestable format.

In addition to quitting social media, I made a decision to reduce my consumption of news. Most of today’s news – be it financial media, political media etc is nothing but drivel that generates excessive noise in my mind, and I wanted to get rid of that from my head.  These little changes opened up so much time; allowing me to do more of what I wanted to do for the past few years: read more books.

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Investing Lessons Learned

There is an investing adage: “You either learn a lesson or make a profit; never both”. I have found this to be true for a better part of my investing years, but as I gain more experience, I am trying to reflect and learn lessons from all my trades – from both winners and losers.

This bull market in stocks has been ongoing for a decade and most investors have forgotten what it is like to lose money and come to witness heart-stopping moments when you suddenly see your envisioned future disappear. I first started  investing in individual stocks in 2008, just before the Global Financial Crisis and that was a great teacher. I try to remember the lessons I learned back then and continue to learn new ones everyday. Over the last couple of years, I decided to move a big portion of my portfolio into the precious metals and mining sector as I saw more value and the sector was hated by many. My reasoning is fairly simple: when the markets crash (and they will), most investors will seek safe havens, and there is no better safe haven than gold. There are a few other reasons, but that is the big one.

Over the last few quarters, I have been finding so many interesting prospects for investing in the sector, that I have overshot my initial target. The sector now makes 1/2 of my overall investing portfolio. Even with a few sales over the last few months, I have been hovering close to the 50% mark due to good returns. And the bull market in gold/silver mining stocks is just getting started!

While I look over the overall portfolio composition, I am being reminded of a lot of investing lessons from each trade. So, I decided that I will share some of these thoughts (including some random observations) here. Hopefully you will find the thoughts valuable & interesting.

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Annual Update – 2017 Review

Welcome to the annual 2017 update. This is part of  a series where I track our financial progress on a regular basis. I present three parts in this series: (i) Investment & Portfolio Update, (ii) Passive Income Update, and (iii) Goals Update.

1. Investment & Portfolio Update

2017 was quite an interesting year. The broad equity markets performed very well with S&P 500 returning ~19%. Regular readers of this blog may be aware that I have been following a multipronged approach to investing lately — with a focus on diversification and following multiple strategies for different portfolios. I focus on active stock investing in both dividend growth companies and growth-focused companies, while my wife’s and daughter’s portfolios use index funds.

The companies from our portfolios increasing their dividends and details of portfolio changes are summarized below.

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Cryptoasset Portfolio

I’d like to provide an update/overview of my blockchain/cryptocurrency/digital asset portfolio. As most regular readers are aware, I have been reading, and sharing a lot of info about my interest in blockchain and cryptocurrency space. I have not been lucky enough to ride this wave early enough to get rich with the immense rise in Bitcoin and other crypto prices, but I am still interested in getting exposure into this space and get some decent returns.

Digital assets/cryptocurrencies provide an extremely unique diversification aspect to a portfolio, in that: they have absolutely no correlation to other asset classes — which is what we desire when we diversify. In this crazy world, where investors fall over themselves to buy negative yielding government bonds; or cheer when companies raise debt in order to pay out dividends; or correlations out-of-whack based on traditional models; there is a gap that is filled by digital assets. This has been a major draw for me to the space and should be on every investor’s radar.

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Annual Update – 2016 Review

Welcome to the annual 2016 update. This is part of  a series where I track our financial progress on a regular basis. I present four parts in this series: (i) Investment & Portfolio Update, (ii) Passive Income Update, (iii) Blog Update, and (iv) Goals Update.

1. Investment & Portfolio Update

2016 saw a big change in direction of my overall portfolio. I decided to cut the number of individual stocks I own as life has gotten busier both personally and professionally. In addition, the current economic environment does not give me a lot of confidence to stay fully invested and decided to move to a cash-heavy position over the summer.
On an ongoing basis, I continue to invest in index funds regularly, which gives me broad market exposure and is currently on “cruise-control”. I have a smaller set of companies that I focus on and make bigger bets on each instead of spreading myself too thin by investing in 40, 50, or 100 companies. Studies have shown that the Unique risks drops substantially by owning as little as 12 stocks. To be on the safer side, I want to focus on a approximately 20 companies and invest in those stocks instead. I have discussed more about this topic in the past — see this post. As a result, you will notice a lot of sales in the following image.
I present the following image which summarizes all the purchases (excluding the regular ETF/seg fund purchases which occur regularly on a monthly basis), all the sales, and all dividend increases in my portfolio.

Companies listed without any activity during the year mean that we did not add or remove these positions in our portfolio, nor did those companies have any change in dividend policy. These investments remain dormant in our portfolio.

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