Be Careful Justifying Your Spending As An Investment

Lambo Huracan For $237,000

The Lambo Huracan For $237K: Because You’re Worth It

One of my readers on The Spending / Savings Balance post asked why I should feel bad spending money on remodeling my house when it should be considered an investment, so long as I don’t go over board. The truth is that when I was cutting multi-thousand dollar checks every week, I was telling myself that all this spending was indeed an investment to make myself feel better about going outside my spending comfort zone.

But now that I’ve taken a hiatus from spending for a couple months, given it takes time to get my drawings approved by the San Francisco Planning Department, I’ve come to realize how dangerous it is to justify every single dollar spent as an investment. An investment has an implicit assumption that it may provide a return some time in the future. The reality is that there are no guarantees, except for the guarantee you no longer have the money you spent!

My hope is that by spending around $100,000 on my home, I’ll provide at least $200,000 in value at some point in the near future. Given I was so focused on this type of “investment return,” I cut checks with ease for the first $60,000. Now that I’ve taken a break and only have $40,000 left in my budget to spend, I’m going to be as scrupulous and strict as possible to make sure the contractors do an amazing job within budget. If I didn’t take a break from remodeling, I’m pretty sure I’d go over my budget by at least $20,000.

Is There A Natural Spending / Savings Balance?

Balanced Spending by Andrew MacGill Flickr Creative commonsFor the past several months, I’ve been spending tens of thousands of dollars remodeling my new old house. I’m only its second owner in the house’s 68 year old history and it needs a lot of work as a result. For example, I just spent $9,000 painting the exterior, the fence, the windows, and all the metal fixtures. The painter estimated the house hadn’t been painted in 25 years! He mentioned that his crew normally uses two gallons of spackle to fix stucco cracks on a house my size, but they used eight gallons to smooth everything out.

Even though I budgeted extra money to bring the house up to date, I still feel dirty spending so much money. It makes me wonder whether we all have some type of self-correcting overspending limit, just like we all have this self-correcting over-eating limit. If we didn’t, we’d all be obese and broke. Nobody I know wants to work forever and feel the constant stress of having no money.

If the average desire to spend is a 5 out of a 1-10 point scale, I’m about a 3. But for the past several months, I’ve been spending at an uncomfortable 9. I’m curious to know where would you rank yourself on the spending scale?

Some of us might have to hit rock bottom before we find our happy spending / saving balance, but at least that makes future spending and savings habits that much stronger.

How To Not Get Pulled Over For A Traffic Ticket: Race And Sex Matter!

Never get a traffic ticket, rolls royceWhen I got my speeding ticket for going 35 mph in a 25 mph zone, all my friends laughed and jibed.

Are you sure Moose can even go 35 mph in two blocks?” (Moose was a slow, 14 year old Land Rover Discovery)

How the hell can you speed during rush hour traffic at 6:45pm? It’s bumper to bumper then!” (SF traffic is horrendous thanks to robust employment compared to five years ago)

Dude, you’re a victim of racial profiling. Out of all the cars out there, they chose your piece of shit? Don’t they have something better to do?

I laughed at all three responses, but then I was asked again, “What color were the police officers?

They were both White,” I responded.

Ah hah! Proof right there. You were targeted!” responded my Hispanic friend.

Come on, that’s just a coincidence,” I replied, even though I was miffed at getting pulled over when everybody was going the same speed during rush hour.

Never forget Rodney King, Don Sterling, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and the town of Ferguson!” shouted my friend with one fist raised up high!

Motif Investing Review: The ETF And Index Fund Killer?

Various MotifsAfter spending 13 years in equities on Wall Street, I’ve been able to personally speak to some of the most successful institutional investors around on how to invest and manage money. The one consistent piece of advice I always hear is to invest in long-term trends and forget about the day-to-day minutiae. For example, shorting/underweighting Japanese equities since the late 1980s and going overweight commodities in the 1990s have been great winning decisions.

As a result of my experience working with successful fund managers, I weaned myself off of trying to constantly trade around the market after the NASDAQ burst and have been focused on long-term, idea-driven investing ever since. I’ll always have a Unicorn Fund to punt around for the next multi-bagger stock, but the fund is always less than 5% of my net worth or 10% of my entire equity exposure.

Motif Investing is a fascinating company based right here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve been following them for the past couple of years after they raised a $25 million round of funding led by Goldman Sachs in 2013, won the Finovate Fall 2013 and Finovate Spring 2014 “Best In Show,” and raised another $35 million round in 2014 led by JP Morgan. Motif Investing makes most of its money off transactions (trades) when you buy or sell one of their “motifs” based on an investment idea you have. They might also expand into the money management business as well.

A motif is essentially a basket of 30 stocks you can invest in, which are aimed to profit from a specific idea or underlying theme. Let’s say you think new housing construction is going to quicken in the US next year. You could buy a housing motif which might contains Lennar, KBH, Home Depot, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Zillow, and more in various weightings. Given my focus on buying winning long-term ideas and ignoring the short-term volatility, I really like Motif’s value proposition for retail investors.

The Epitome Of Perseverance: Joe Locke’s 14-Hour Swim Through Cold And Darkness

Farallon Islands Incredible Swim Joe Locke

Joe swimming at 2am in the Pacific Ocean

Life is funny. I remember looking out my new living room window one morning and seeing the Farallon Islands for the first time. Even on a sunny day, they sometimes don’t appear given they are 30 miles away. But everything was crystal clear this morning and I could see the island’s entire silhouette.

I distinctly remember thinking to myself, wouldn’t it be crazy if someone swam from the Farallon Islands to the San Francisco shore and grabbed a cheeseburger for lunch at Outerlands Restaurant?

Then that afternoon I saw on the news a man had just finished swimming from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge in 14 hours! What’s more, I knew the guy from my previous career in finance. Small world!

I reached out to Joe to have him share his incredible accomplishment of swimming in frigid 53-55 degree waters for 14 hours straight, starting at midnight. I’m constantly looking for motivation, and I just cannot believe Joe was able to persevere for so long. After two hours of swimming in 78 degree Hawaiian water I’m done!

For those who have a propensity to quit way too soon, please have a read. There are just too many people who never achieve their full potential due to not sticking things out.