The best way to get rich is to turn funny money into real assets. By turning funny money gains into real assets, you increase your chances of holding onto your gains. But what is funny money?
Funny money is money that is built upon far out assumptions that may never come true. Funny money is money you earn by just doing something you love. Sometimes people call funny money, lucky money. Funny money is also money made in highly speculative assets like Bitcoin and growth stocks that have no utility.
The equity you have in public or private stocks is considered funny money because it is intangible. One day its value may be up a lot. Another day its value may be crushed due to a slight earnings miss. Stock valuations are just want you see on a screen. Funny money investments have no utility.
By regularly converting some of your funny money into real assets, you help ensure your wealth will continue to grow for a longer period of time. Otherwise, it might just go POOF one day and disappear!
Stocks As Funny Money
One of the biggest funny money assets is equities. Equity valuation is based on future earnings projections that may or may not happen. While you wait, you receive zero utility from equities. Growth stocks, an investment favorite for younger investors, has been fantastic funny money.
The first stock market meltdown I ever experienced was the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. International college students from countries like Korea and Indonesia had to drop out because the Won and Rupiah depreciated so much, making tuition unaffordable.
Construction cranes stopped moving in Bangkok and the IMF had to bail out the entire region. Of course some people made a killing in the downturn when they swooped up assets for pennies on the dollar. But most people lost their shirts.
Then when things really started getting good again in 1999, the NASDAQ decided to collapse in the Spring of 2000. Such a shame to only experience one brilliant year of mega exuberance after college before the floor fell out.
Many people in finance lost their jobs. Then 9/11 happened. I remember seeing my stock portfolio go from $3,000 to an absurd $200,000 in six months. It then lost about $40,000 in a couple weeks when B2B stocks and internet stocks started imploding.
I remember thinking: Where does all the money go? It's all funny money!
Paper millionaires who exercised their stock options early and didn't sell not only lost everything, they also owed huge tax bills as well. Remember, the government always wins in the end.
The Best Way To Get Rich
Most people start off investing with the simple goal of making more money with money. Eventually, your financial nut grows to the point where you start getting tired of the idea of just making money for money's sake. Instead, you want your capital to produce enough passive income so you can enjoy life and stop having to think so much about money!
You want to use your money for something good – mainly to live a better life. Money should be earmarked for specific purposes e.g. kid's tuition, early retirement, more free-time, charity, a home with panoramic ocean views, etc. Otherwise, there's no point investing.
When you make a profit on an investment and then use your profit to pay for a better life, you are double winning. Always be winning.
When a stock you are long goes from $10 to $100, you feel like a genius. Everybody is a genius in a bull market. Don't confuse brains with a bull market. Bear markets happen every so often, destroying years of progress if you are not properly diversified.
Don't Confuse Brains With A Bull Market
The trick is to not really believe you are a genius. Instead, believe that you are simply a financial engineer who carefully asset allocates his or her money in the most optimum way possible.
By developing a methodical habit of re-investing your savings into your preferred asset allocation model, chances are high you will have more winners than losers over the long-run. Your tailwinds are continued savings, inflation, and ever-rising demand.
Easy Come Easy Go
When I saw $40,000 of my paper profits disappear into thin air at the age of 23, I came up with a promise. That promise was to regularly turn funny money into something tangible. Funny money can also be called vaporware or any type of lucky break or windfall.
The only way I could make the tangible thing disappear would be to set it on fire or blow it up with a grenade. Even then, insurance may cover some of the damages.
Funny money is the medium by which one makes something from nothing. It is up to you to then turn that something from nothing into something tangible. If you don't turn the money money into a real asset, then at least use the profits to buy wonderful experiences.
Vaporware refers to companies who make nothing tangible, but who have hefty valuations due to high future growth expectations. Many vaporware companies are unprofitable. They are just expecting investor sentiment to continue buoying them along until they can stand on their own two feet.
Funny Money Disappearing Today
In 1Q2020, the S&P 500 declined by 32% from its peak. One of my favorite stocks, Tesla, declined by over 60% from its peak. Now, the stock is up 10X during the middle of a pandemic. Then it declined by 50% in 2022! Absurd!
Tesla is valued based on earnings decades into the future. Whether the earnings materialize, momentum investors don't care. Note: I do have a $180,000 position in Tesla at the time of this update. However, I converted $50,000 of shares into a home remodel.
These tech gains are considered funny money because investors are predicting the most optimistic earnings assumptions imaginable. I'm getting e-mails from strangers left and right asking me whether they should buy these big winners now.
Maybe the market is right. Maybe everything will quickly go back to the way things were before the pandemic. Funny money companies will sell more widgets than ever before!
Or maybe these funny money companies will lose their massive gains as the economy relapses. Sitting here in San Francisco, it sure feels like one surreal bubble after the NASDAQ went up 42% in 2020 and is up ~20% in 2021.
Cryptocurrency And Regional Bank Funny Money
The collapse of FTX, the formerly second-largest cryptocurrency exchange in 48-hours is an example of vaporware funny money. FTX was once worth over $30 billion. It's founder, Sam Bankman-Fried was once worth over $20 billion. Then FTX and SBF's net worth collapse to a negative value in 48 hours. The sheer amount of wealth lost so quickly is amazing.
If only Sam Bankman-Fried converted some of his wealth into tangible assets. But even if he did, he might face more serious allegations from the SEC.
Then in 2023, regional banks such as Silicon Valley Bank and First Republic Bank collapsed. You would think these well-capitalized banks with long histories would withstand the test of time. But due to ill-timed investments in long-dated Treasury bonds, these banks lost money and clients withdrew their deposits in a hurry. Equity shareholders got wiped out as a result.
Nobody knows the future, which is why regularly converting funny money into real assets is so important. The last thing you want to do is give up all your gains and then some after such a strong rebound. So many individual stocks such as Peloton, Zillow, and a bunch more have round-tripped since the pandemic began.
Real Assets To Buy With Funny Money
The best way to get rich is to turn your funny money into a real asset that continues to provide value. Not only does the real asset provide utility, a real asset can also generate valuable income.
The value of income has gone way up becomes interest rates have come way down during the pandemic. As a result, these income-producing assets are also much more valuable.
Here are some of my favorite real assets.
1) Real Estate
Real estate is my favorite asset class to build wealth for most people. It is easier to understand, tangible, provides shelter, and can generate income.
The people who got rich after the 2000 dotcom bomb all took some profits and bought real estate. For over 20 years, these people have not only enjoyed their homes, but they have also seen their real estate values go up.
Property is the most logical real asset to buy with funny money when you first start out. Unless the Bank Of Mom And Dad buys a property for you out of school, you are likely renting. Your goal should be to get neutral real estate by owning property as soon as you can afford to. If you have funny money gains, then buying real estate should be your top choice.
I do believe the best time to buy property is when you can afford it. Once you've bought your first property, you can consider investing in other income generating properties.
2) Precious Metals
Gold and silver can grow in value and act as a hedge against a decline in the U.S. Dollar. Given the Federal Government and the Federal Reserve are providing $3+ trillion in stimulus in 2020 and probably more in 2021, there is a fear that the U.S. Dollar will decline in value. After all, the more there is of something, the less valuable it is.
Unfortunately, precious metals provide no tangible value. They don't produce any income either. Precious metals are only fun to own if you have precious metal jewelry or fine watches.
We can laugh at the people buying rose gold Patek Philippes and Audemar Piguets over the decades. But they are seriously laughing at us now because these watches have soared in value.
The below chart shows that Gold (yellow) started outperforming stocks and silver after 2007 when the Federal Reserve started flooding the system with cash. Silver (gray) has unfortunately been a dog since December 2012. But let's be frank, silver isn't really that precious!
3) Valuables & Collectibles
Classic cars, coins, and stamps have all outperformed the MSCI World Index over the past 10 years according to The Economist's chart below. The prices for Van Goghs, Warhols, and Vermeers have done well thanks to fixed supply and a massive creation of the newly rich from countries such as China.
Once you buy your mega mansion, you've got to decorate the walls. Besides insurance, there's little maintenance costs for fine art, just the initial frame, setting, and security details. When you can visibly enjoy your investment everyday and make money from it, what a joy.
Not buying fine art is one of my biggest regrets because I thought I couldn't afford it. I was naive to think that buying fine art meant just buying an original. The reality is that the entire chain of fine art from originals to third edition prints have rose in value.
The two things I collect are ancient Chinese coins and stamps. But I collect coins and stamps because I enjoy them. I love to flip through my collection and attend coin and stamp fairs when I have time. There's just something about owning a piece of memorabilia that's so fascinating.
As China, India, and other emerging superpowers open up, there will be even more wealth chasing precious metals and valuables.
Another real asset to buy is rare books with autographs. As a Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Buy This, Not That, my in-person signing events got eliminated when my book came out in 2022. I didn't want to do in-person events out of fear of catching COVID and spreading it to my two young children.
Think about how many fewer rare books are there without signatures thanks to over two years of the pandemic. If there wasn't the pandemic, I would have easily signed over 500 books. But now, there are less than 60 signed copies of my first edition book in the world.
4) A Cash Cow Business
Owning a cash cow business not only generates an additional income stream, it also allows you to deduct your ongoing expenses. Relevant travel, lodging, transportation, electronic equipment, and meals can all be expensed. Your tax bill gets reduced as a result.
Of course not all businesses are created equal, and there is plenty of risk in buying a business or building a business. Always do your due diligence. I'm currently scooping up some lovely businesses to bolster my online real estate portfolio.
When buying a business think about potential for margin expansion, sustainability of earnings, defensibility of the business model, and payback period to name a few.
I believe everybody should start a website today. In my biased view, running an internet business is the best business in the world due to high margins, low capital expenditure, a huge potential demand curve, scaleability, defensibility, and good flexibility.
In a world where an online business cannot be shut down due to a pandemic, the value of online businesses have gone way up. I would convert some of your funny money into buying online real estate.
Can't Get Rich Depending On Luck Alone
Getting rich is nice. Most people with extraordinary wealth got very lucky in their lives. However, it is not wise to depend on luck alone. The best way to get rich is to be very diligent about your finances. Don't take your luck for granted.
How many times are you really going to inherit $500,000 from your Aunt Sally? Maybe once. Probably never.
How many times are you going to make large year-end bonuses until you burn out? Maybe only a handful of times.
How many times are you going to buy that lucky multi-bagger stock? Never if you're just investing in passive index funds. Hence, you should probably allocate a portion of your investable assets into individual stocks.
How long will you enjoy an incredible bull market before there's another violent correction? Based on my investing experience, these “once in a lifetime events” seem to happen every 5-10 years.
Your Luck Will Eventually Run Out
If you've ever gone to a casino and gambled, you've likely experienced two things:
1) The stupidity of making a lot and then losing it all.
2) The absolute joy of walking away with a profit and turning the funny money into something that lasts.
We can't get lucky all the time. Even for those of us who work obscenely hard to try and create our own luck, our luck will run out. Therefore, when we get extremely lucky with our investments, we must practice converting some of our gains into hard assets.
FTX's luck ran out in a very big way with the collapse of his exchange. So did the fortune of many tech founders, employees, and investors during the 2022 bear market. Me being one of them.
How I Plan To Stay Rich
Although it took thousands of hours to create Financial Samurai, the revenue it generates is considered funny money. When you can make money doing something you love, the income doesn't feel real.
Due to my beliefs, I'm regularly using my online revenue to buy as many passive income investments as possible. The #1 real asset on my list is pandemic real estate. I'd like to further upgrade our living arrangements if we're going to be stuck here for a while. Then maybe I buy an original masterpiece by some unknown artist to decorate my walls.
One day, I'd like to look back and say grandad's real estate empire was all paid for by online business funny money. Just in case I run my online business into the ground, at least my grandkids have somewhere to live.
I'm buying rental properties today for capital appreciation and rental income appreciation. Big city real estate will come back, which is why I'm actively looking at Manhattan properties now. There's an oversupply of condos, which means bargain hunting!
Buying Sunbelt / Heartland Real Estate
I'm also diversifying my real estate holdings in various real estate crowdfunding deals across the country given valuations are cheaper in the heartland. Further, there are solid demographic trends towards 18-hour cities, which is why CrowdStreet has an appealing inventory of deals.
For a more diversified way of investing in real estate, check out Fundrise. Fundrise has over 400,000 investors and manages over $3.5 billion. It creates diversified funds for investors to gain exposure. The investment minimum is just $10, so practically anybody can start investing. For most people investing in a diversified fund is the way to go.
I've personally invested $810,000 in private real estate in the Sunbelt / Heartland. I believe in the long-term demographic shift towards lower cost areas of the country to save money. Technology is only going to get better and work-from-home is now ubiquitous.
Hold On To Your Funny Money Gains
As far as I'm concerned, all the money we've recently made during the pandemic is funny money. Very few of us would have expected to make so much with so much of the economy shut down, but we have.
Therefore, the best way to get or stay rich is to convert funny money into something real. The second best way to get rich is to not be delusional.
If you start thinking too highly of your investing acumen, you may take excess risk and blow yourself up. The third best way to get rich is to never take your luck for granted. Always try to recreate more luck.
Real assets are a great way of diversifying your good fortune into something tangible. If you can enjoy your real assets while they also appreciate in value, all the better.
Manage Your Finances In One Place
The best way to get rich is to get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts in one place so you can see where you can optimize.
The best tool is their Portfolio Fee Analyzer which runs your investment portfolio through its software to see what you are paying. I found out I was paying $1,700 a year in portfolio fees I had no idea I was paying! They also recently launched the best Retirement Planning Calculator around, using your real data to run thousands of algorithms to see what your probability is for retirement success.
There's no better free tool online to help you track your net worth, minimize investment expenses, and manage your wealth. Why gamble with your future?
100 thoughts on “The Best Way To Get Rich: Turn Funny Money Into Real Assets”
Would you consider private reits like RealtyMogul or Fundrise funny money? Or do you consider those real assets since they are technically tied to real estate?
Also, would you consider public reits funny money then?
Not quite given private and public funds own real assets.
However, the investments can certainly be considered funny money when there is too much leverage. Make sure the sponsor has enough skin in the game and a large enough equity cushion during a downturn.
See: The Capital Stack In Real Estate
What does this answer mean? Is Fundrise “funny money” or a true investment into real estate? Thanks
It’s a true investment in a real asset, real estate, which is more stable, provides utility, and generates income. Fundrise returns have been solid during stock bear markets. Part of the reason why is due to lower leverage (debt) when investing in properties.
Taking on too much debt and buying stocks on margin can be risky. So I don’t recommend borrowing money to invest.
I currently have $300k to invest. This would be outside of my SEP IRA which I max out every year at $57k. I’m thinking of investing into the following and wanted to get your thoughts:
$100k into Fundrise (I currently have $75k invested since ’19)
$100k info AcreTrader or Farm Together (This would be my first time doing so, though not really wild about the 10 year holding period)
$10k into Crypto ($5k bitcoin/$5k Etherium). This would be my first dip in so just starting small
$90k into my brokerage account of which I hold a portfolio of 20 growth stocks.
I’m looking to diversify as the SEP holds the index funds, my ROTH (which I can’t fund due to being over the income limits) holds my REITs, and the brokerage holds individual stocks. I have an additional $300k I’m using to buy a home in 2022 and will put down 20% and finance the rest.
Is this sound or do you have any recommendations?
Where do you go to evaluate coin and stamp prices?
Manhattan? I take it you do not keep up to date on sea-rise, then? Make sure to look at least 10′ above sea level, plus ocean swell, if you are investing long-term. To me that would be on the mainland, decidedly NOT the island.
“Sea-rise” … yeah right. Just like the polar ice cap would melt by 2014 … etc etc
Searise isn’t real.
Thanks for the article Sam.
I am one of those suffering from FOMO at the moment. Am 34 y/o, and have an equity of circa $400k in real estate ($630k in assets – $230k of debt), about $170k in stocks (although with many defensive positions, not big exposure to tech or other growth stocks), $30k in bonds, and about $70k in cash.
Probably too conservative portfolio considering my age. I feel like I have to get more exposure to the stock market but at the same time I feel like there is excessive optimism at the moment. Theory says the stock market is properly valued because it is efficient and considers the views of all players, but can’t avoid thinking that S&P500/GDP and leverage ratios keep going up and those seem like red flags to me. I am increasing my cash position meanwhile.
Any advice or comments for a younger investor who wants to achieve financial freedom sooner rather than later?
I’m confused about how you can consider your blog funny money just because you enjoy it, but at the same time say that you are taking funny money and converting it to assets such as online businesses, which are growing in valuation. Could you help me understand what you mean in what appears to be a contradiction? Would someone buying your blog, for instance, be a wise investment, or would they be buying funny money producer?
Thank you! Love your blog.
Great article that reminds us to pay attention. I especially like the “Financial Engineer” concept.
Wanted to provide a financial decision made to buy a vacant land asset earlier this year.
We live in a semi-rural neighborhood that’s just a few minutes south of a major metro area. A 15 minute drive begins the Seattle metro area which extends 100 miles to the north. To the south is rural Washigton state and then Portland, which is about 100 miles south.
In April of this year (in the midst of COVID lockdowns), our elderly neighbors put a 2 acre raw land property on the market that just happens to be immediately adjacent to our 5 acre property. The thought of another home built immediately next door was a source of significant angst!
We’re fortunate to own a thriving tech services business that generates ample cash, and we were able to put down an immediate all-cash offer within two days, which was accepted and the sale closed in short order ($110K).
We’ve never purchased land before, and a quick decision was required becuase as you likely know, homes & property in the Seattle area, even 50+ miles south, are in historically short supply.
Our goal was two-fold:
1. buy the property to ensure the relative tranquilty of our main property
2. explore the possibility of building a home on the site at some point in the future and converting to a vacation VRBO
The property is completely undeveloped, but has impressive stands of mature big-leaf maples, and towering Douglas firs. It’s also adjacent to several acres of designated wetland, which in this case means no further development other than on the acreage we purchased. We are minutes away to popular mountain bike trails, kayaking, hiking, & fishing. We are just a couple of hours from the Ocean, Olympic National Park, and Rainier National Park. The idea is this VRBO would be marketed as the gateway to adventure!
In any event, had we bought a new $100k Tesla, the opportunity would likely have been lost. Worst case scenario in my view is we bought the equivalent of a 3% bond. If we develop the property it would likely be worth 5X of what we paid (less development costs).
I suppose this is one version of converting “funny money” to something a little more real!
Would love to hear your perspective on this scenario.
Hi Sam –
When you mention on the website: “I like the combination of having a core S&P 500 index fund, some sector ETFs, and individual stock names. It’s my “Passive Plus” strategy”, does that include international stocks and bonds or are you US focused only – S&P, Dividend funds, US REITs, Real Estate Crowdfunding, Treasuries, etc?
Would love to hear your thoughts!
Hope you are well.
Yes, index includes all indices in the Passive side and all alternatives in the Plus side.
I know you’re a big fan of real estate, however I am concerned at how the sale prices have stayed consistent while unemployment is sky high.
I live in Chicago and the Mayor has extended moratoriums on foreclosure and evictions 60 days past IL mandate of 7/31/20 till end of Sept. Aren’t you worried about a correction in the real estate market as well once the floodgates open and the govt stops paying everyone’s rent/mortgages?
I agree. Real estate is concerning with all the potential foreclosures etc. Hence, if you are to buy real estate, you should try and get properties at a discount. Everyone needs a buffer.
When the government stops providing support is when the economy opens up. Therefore, expect more support to be unleashed this month.
See: Real Estate Buying Strategies During COVID-19
I think you want to turn ANY money you get into real assets if you want to get rich. I’d personally not treat money differently because of the source. I guess if that helps others more power to them.
I like spending funny money on my stomach…… wagyu beef, blue fin tuna……
My favorite in your list is real estate. I’ve been slowly building up my real estate crowdfunding portfolio because it’s maintenance free and takes waaaay less capital to get started. Thanks for the fun post! Love the picture, ha
Real Estate is my favorite asset class as well. How is the real estate market where you’re looking? I live in a ski town and so far, prices are rising and the good stuff is going quickly. I think people are fleeing bigger and more crowded cities now that they’ve proven they can work remotely to wherever they think they’ll have the best quality of life.
Great post, love your content.
I am considering allocating a small percentage of my portfolio to ‘funny money’ investments and stock picks.
I started my blog around one month ago and have been hammering away at the content. It is more a medium to share my journey but I hope that one day it becomes a revenue stream to help propel me to FI. If you have any advice for me I would love to hear it!
Best wishes and stay safe!
I started putting together a blog as well not long ago. So far it’s going well, very easy to come up with things to write.
But I always fear a day will come when I just won’t know what to write about. I’m not a great writer as it is (almost failed english in 12th grade) so getting writer’s block scares me more than the current pandemic.
It’ll take a long time for us to get to the level of the FS but every journey begins with a single step. One step at a time!
Best of luck on your blog!
Sam has talked about this before here (https://www.financialsamurai.com/blogging-is-easy/), and Seth Godin also has some great articles where he talks about writers block (just type Seth Godin writers block into Google).
I’ve found Sam and Seth’s articles really helpful when thinking about blogging and creating content.
Hope that helps and keep writing!
I’m a big fan of real estate investment as well. I believe real estate should be a cornerstone of everyone’s investment portfolio.
I actually want to move money out of stocks into hard assets. But it becomes hard when the tax hit is 35% for a New Yorker like me. It is tough to lose 35% of the value right off the bat.
Therefore, I’ve just been riding out the stock market swings.
This was a great post! I enjoyed it so much =D
This post is well-timed. Given the equity market rebound, continued COVID lockdown, and seriously depressed long term interest rates; I’ve been considering selling a large portion of my stocks, leveraging my house up to the Jumbo limit, and using the cash to build a new business.
Opportunity is knocking.
We sold some stock options (85K) and could pay off the house – but why am I so hesitant to do it? I’m not feeling confident where we live (Minnesota) and worry about what could happen next in the world.
I guess it depends on how much cash left you have after $85,000?
Thanks for your reply! We’d still have enough cash left to cover a year of expenses. And we have 1+ million in tax def accounts.
Sounds like a no brainer to pay off the house then. You’ve got 7 figures in investible assets already plus a year of expenses in cash PLUS enough to pay off the mortgage. If you regret paying it off you can always go get another one at rock bottom interest rates. Paying it off may also shift your mindset and enable you to take more risk in your career or investments while having the peace of mind of a paid off home. Sounds like the note is relatively small anyway. Pay that sucker off!
Sam – yet another perfectly timed post. Let me tell you a recent story that transpired over the past 4 months…
In late March, early April things were looking unstable… I had a quarterly distribution due from my IT business, and normally I’d invest in equities (outside my tax-favored funds). This time I paused…
Less than a month later, a vacant land acreage property adjacent to ours went on the market.
We made a full-cash offer on the third day. Why? To protect our privacy.
The offer was $110K for a shy 2 acre plot. We live on the edge of the Olympic Rain Forest in Washington state and there are lots of wetland buffers (which we support) to contend with…
We had some feasibility contingencies, but otherwise we were committed to the purchase.
We closed on July 2nd!
So… this was a completely unplanned opportunity than fell into our lap…
1. No new “unplanned” immediate neighbors… ever.
2. The other adjacent property is actually the wetland, which means we bought a 2 acre plot with a de facto 5 acre privacy buffer! Now we live on a 10 acre property (de facto…)
3. We are life-long entrepreneurs. Within the next 3 years we plan to build a minimally intrusive home on the property and market it as a “Gateway to the Olympic Rain Forest” (the largest temperate rain forest in the world by the way…) Someday that home will be converted to a possible retirement home, or perhaps a home for one of our 5 children.
4. We show our children to always be prepared to take advantage of whatever opportunities come their way by being their best always, to stay humble and grateful to the best of their abilities, and to help their fellow citizens to also be extraordinary.
Completely love the message of your work Sam – God Bless you and your family in these weird, insane times!
Would love to host you someday at our place if the opportunity ever arises!
I agree that tech stocks in particular have kind of gotten out of control. With Tesla at over $1300 a share, the market is assuming it’s going to take over a 50% market share of all cars within 10 years.
But you can’t really fight the funny morning momentum. You just got a ride it and hope for the best.
I’m looking for property as well.
I’ve always loved the Tesla stock. In 2017 I felt confident buying it any time it was below $350 because they were all the hype with the model 3 coming out.
I still believe they are poised to overtake the industry but their stock is definitely a little too inflated. The next 5 years will show us whether this current price is justified or not.
I did however take my profits on it and now my wife and I are closing on a house in a very in demand area of Long island, NY. Real estate in many places is very competitive, we had 5 others offers to beat on every property we looked at.
Good luck to you in your search!
Wow amazing article, I run a blog that teaches hows to invest in hard assets. Its so important to diversify your portfolio with real assets in order to hedge against an uncertain economy. We have been conditioned to look only at standard ways of investing, such as bonds and stocks and most people don’t know what other options they have.
Fantastic read, I’m all about Real Estate and Precious metals. I’m currently holding property in the US and Canada. Luckily have not seen the ugly side of real estate investing (market crash) yet :)
I regularly invest in quality companies that are recommended to me via a subscription to Motley Fool stock advisor service (less than $75 subscription cost per year). David and Tom Gardner have a very good record of rational value based stock picking. My biggest dilemma right now is whether or not to buy a home. I’m 31 years old, live in NYC and still can’t justify purchasing an apartment and paying the $1-2k monthly maintenance costs (on top of mortgage) that come along with it. I have a $2,000/month apartment that my wife and I live in (which is extremely low for the market), but I would like to deploy more capital into real estate. I’m looking into buying a vacation home in Charleston, SC and possibly renting it out for the forseable future, as we do want to live there down the road. Any this or other real estate strategies?
Great article. Last quarter we turned some funny money into cash, in preparation for buying our first home or investment property abroad next year. It felt nice to see that long-term capital gain realized! I agree that it’s important to take some gains and diversify.
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I love how you put it…using funny money to pay for real assets.
This is my plan. We have purchased our first rental property and occupying as a residence for the lower rate. Plan on converting after our first year. We have saved enough to buy our primary residence and a second rental.
I also own physical gold and silver.
I just don’t see how the Fed is going to get out of the 2.8 Trillion in excess reserves. When that money finally finds it’s way into the economy…combined with the money multiplier…lots of funny money. Plan on selling gold/silver and stocks to buy more real estate. Also borrow from 401k to purchase real estate.
Another chart to take a peek at would be fancy colored diamonds :)
According to those communists at The Atlantic Monthly (sorry for the snark–can never resist that one), the top .1 of the top 1 percent laugh a lot — they get most of their money from the stock market. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/how-the-rich-shall-inherit-the-earth/361620/
Coincidence that the hockey stick coincides with the abandonment of the Gold Standard? Me thinks not…
So – is the disparity real, or merely a reflection of leverage?
I’m a Canadian living and planning on retiring in Europe and have been struggling with how and where to invest. Sending Euros to Canada/US fanatic, bringing them back to pay the bills, sucks big time.
It would take too much space here to explain in detail but my wife and I became accidental landlords when we got relocated and I found out what a sweet deal being a landlord in Germany is. Short version is almost all the costs associated with owning an apartment (i.e. condo fees) can be passed on to the tenant. Up to and including property taxes, upgrades etc. Even better yields can be up to 5%. Plus loads of opportunities for tax write offs
Negative: income is taxed as ordinary income, and in our case our marginal tax rate is 45%, vs 25% for capital gains.
But like real estate everywhere its location location location. I spent a year looking for places, and can’t tell you how many times I found what I thought was an awesome bargain only to find it rotten on beneath the surface. But evenually I did fine two more units. So for me three is enough, all profits will be reinvested back into the Canadian market.
So to answer your question, took our profits in stock Canadian stock market and turned it into a Euro generating real estate.
Oh yeah we’ll be cash flow and tax even for about 12 years, once my wife retires I’ll have to revisit how to structure it.
Have you considered convincing your wife to work for longer so you can enjoy your retirement? If not, please read:
Investing in our kids seems like a good idea at this point. I guess they could have gone to the local community college (I teach there, they’d have free tuition), but with their AP credits and college-in-the-high-school, they really don’t need the level of education we offer. Perhaps we could have been more frugal, but as long as they got 50% in merit scholarships, we’re footing the rest of the bill. It’s twice our mortgage every month, so a good thing it’s finite. Then we can work on the mortgage.
But the “room with a view” resonated for me. We would have paid off the mortgage in a previous house about now had we not downsized to something a tiny bit bigger but with a phenomenal view out in the woods. Part of living for today. Still pretty ruthlessly saving (over 50% of our income), but enjoying the view, too.
Just to clarify, how do you “downsize to something bigger with a phenomenal view”? That sounds like upsize, upsiZe to me!
I bet he means that they bought something cheaper or with cheaper debt. Downsize on costs, but upsize on space and lifestyle.
Putting funny money into real estate or property really makes sense.Although stock markets still remain the best asset class in the long run,are easy to buy or sell owing to liquidity but property prices remain more stable. Likelihood of going into loss by investing in real estate remains low compared to stocks.I would definitely like to increase my exposure to real estate.
The only thing I do which I consider investing is paying my mortgage down early.
Sure, I’m in the stock market. I invest in myself with education and training. Precious metals is nice if, as you say, you see societal doom on the horizon (although having lived through the 80s gold boom, I respect riding a bull market).
I’m much more interested in investments that produce cash flow, be it rental property, P2P lending, dividend stocks, etc. Capital appreciation is nice, but cash flow typically comes from something someone needs, now, repeatedly. Capital appreciation can be very fickle, especially for “art”, be it stamps, paintings, or Beanie Babies…
Using funny money to pay down a mortgage is definitely something I’m for and plan to methodically do over the next 12 months until one mortgage is completely gone.
very new to this so please be gentle, If I am reading this ok, I am very happy with where my stocks have come back up too, I am worried about a second round of Covid and of loosing what I have built up. I have a good 10 years of work ahead of me so my financial planner says ride it out – I want to cash out 200,000 and pay off my mortgage. Early April when my stocks fell 200,000 I wished I had – now they are back up. Is this what you mean by using “funny money”?
Funny money:the medium by which one makes something from nothing.
Perfect explanation. Cheers!
I have my 11th rental property under contract! I know where my money is going. I have not made much in the stock market, because I don’t invest in it. I make my money with real estate and put it right back into real estate. So far my returns are just as good or better with real estate than the stock market and I feel it is much more stable.
Mark – do you invest in a particular type of home, or price structure? Instrested to know what is your criteria.
Hi G, most of my rentals are bought from $80,000 to $130,000 and rent from $1,200 to $1,500. I am in northern colorado and our taxes are really low. Around .05% of the value per year.
Most homes are in middle income neighborhoods. It is hard to find good deals right now with our market taking off.
Yeah, prices are going up everywhere. And not just in real estate either.
So basically fictional prices to the rest of the world
I just plow ALL extra money into paying off our mortgage. Funny money or not, I don’t really care. If it’s anything extra after paying our expenses and investing it goes to principal payments. After mortgage is killed next year it will all go into additional investments. Makes any funny money a non-event really. Simplicity works for me.
Paying a mortgage off vs investing the windfalls you may get depends on how good the investment is. If you can make more in interest by % than you are paying in interest by % it’s wiser to invest.
That is the common way to look at it.
But…. You could also try to value a lifetime of rent free/mortgage free cash flow stream. Example: let’s say homes in your neighborhood rent for $2000/month.
So that’s $24,000/year in extra cash flow you do not have to pay out because you own your home “free and clear”. $24,000 divided by a conservative discount rate of 4% (30 year treasury bond) would be like having a $600,000 fixed income investment.
That’s pretty much how I look at it too. The house will be paid off next year and my fixed monthly expenses will drop dramatically right away. Don’t underestimate the value of knowing that you owe nothing to anybody. If it all goes to hell my family will be just fine even if just one of us got a minimum wage job… or flipped a few things on Craigslist per month… or cut a few lawns etc. For me, that’s some powerful stuff and a lot more tangible than chasing hypothetical returns!
I have to say: I have come around to similar thinking. There is considerable value in being mortgage free. It is difficult to mathematically quantify, but it is certainly there. Think of the life style options you have when mortgage free?
Or the ability to invest in risky ventures because, your home is already paid for?
How about a mortgage offset account?
The funds you would have used to pay off the mortgage would be accessible to take advantage of opportunities, and whilst it remains in the account it offsets any mortgage interest.
What’s up with that picture? Is he representative of funny money?
We’re buying up rental properties this year for a lot of the reasons you’re noting, Sam. We’re still investing in the market, too, but are more excited about the little income streams each house can produce.
I feel the single most important asset that anyone can invest in is themselves. I invest in learning a new skill set, building new relationships, and putting time into my business so that it continues to grow passively.
I can get behind that advice. I wonder whether the cost of investing in yourself gets cheaper and cheaper though. All I do now is read a lot of free books and articles online. No more b-school or anything.
Very interesting. Looks like classic cars are a real winner!
Buy dividends. If you buy dividends, it is like owning a high cash flow business with very little effort on your part.
Look for things which are recession proof. Like cigarettes for example. Maybe an Altria? Powerful addictions such as cigarettes always do well. Caffeine and liquor are good too. And the growing population still has to eat, even if unemployed. Hold these stocks forever and enjoy the quarterly dividend checks while you go about your life. Even better: a drip plan. Put it on autopilot.
Yeah, I was totally surprised about classic cars, an asset that is known to depreciate! I thought fine art would be the leader.
I’m a fan of classic cars. But it something that must go beyond just being an ordinary investor. You really must have a good understanding of the value of these machines. If you’re not into cars, the risk is super high.
But on the positive side, it’s much less costly or as esoteric as airplanes! Interestingly (for some folks), thirty+ year old single engine airplanes (in great condition) also seem to grow in value.
Art…… I love art….. But dude, I just can’t really value that stuff! I might drink wine, but I’m too blue collar to deal with art. I do think rare coins are an interesting hobby with value potential.
In any case, Sam, you have made valuable points with this post. I think it’s better to live in the physical (real) world.
Just wanted to add: I know a guy that runs a very lucrative side business, restoring classic corvettes. There really is good money in this. Or things like this.
But again, you really need considerable knowledge/expertise in these products, and there is a certain amount of liquidity risk.
But things like classic cars (or other interests) can certainly be a very profitable hobbies. The hunt for treasures is very fun and you get to meet interesting people!
You have to understand liquidity risk with these type of investments. When the economy is crashing, it may not be possible to turn these things into cash very quickly. If you find these kind of investments interesting, it is very important to maintain a larger than usual cash position.
good article, very timely as well, I just converted my cash to 2 rental properties and invested in index funds and dividend stocks. (finally convinced my wife on not holding into too much cash)
I don’t think I’ll ever into fine arts or any collectors items. Maybe when I get older.
Nice. Enjoy the cash flow!
It takes a lot of effort figuring out how to properly deploy cash doesn’t it? You want a return, but you want to protect it with your life too. Like releasing your kids to the wild!
I agree. Over time, real assets are a good tool to build wealth. It’s an asset class that tends to appreciate very slowly, but steadily, and spits out a ton of cash.
If it was possible, and I had the time, I would invest all my money in investment properties and reinvest for 5-10 years, and then, start allocating the cash flow into market investments. All that cash flow for the rest of time, who cares if it underperforms the Dow?
The one other common theme of the charts in this post is that practically everything goes up and to the right. So, the basic idea is to start accumulating assets first, and diversifying into real assets that you can also enjoy.
Because at the end of the day, money isn’t worth anything but the paper it’s printed on. It has to be converted to something. Appreciation potential + utility = more happiness.
I realize this isn’t everyone’s thing but I find that guns and ammunition are solid tangible investments with no associated carrying cost.
This is a timely article. I just rebalanced my portfolio to add some money to bonds. It’s tough to sell stocks now that it’s doing so well, but you need to be disciplined and do it.
We sold 2 rentals, but will pick up another one close by. So it’s a wash on that front. I don’t like gold and collectibles, though. Expensive collectibles just don’t mix well with a crazy 3 year old. I guess I should pick up some gold…
Good luck on the new property hunt! I’m surprised you decided to sell both rentals at the same time. I take the different approach of buying and holding real estate for as long as possible. Ideally, forever.
I agree, I believe in holding real estate. Not always easy when values jump around, but I like tax breaks, positive cash flows and increasing equity every month courtesy of my tenants. Always appreciate validation in my approach, don’t love the insecure side of myself when it comes to investing, but I am self-aware.
My experience with building wealth is with real estate. I had purchased a property in my late 20s, only to triple now after 14 years. It has also given a good rental which I invested in CD with 8% return. Overall that house had helped me achieve some wealth accumulation. My current residential home could potentially pay itself off only if i downsize and move to somewhere else, so that is what I am aiming for now. I do allocate 30K on stocks, but I have been somewhat cautious – trying to buy on low and selling on high even if I earn $50 at a time. I like to think of this money as my pocket money – pays for my cell, internet etc. Some days I lose but overall it helps. I have no guts to invest long term and always afraid of losing the 30K.
What CD gives you an 8% return ? I have been looking at CDs for sometime but I am getting discouraged by the 1-2 % returns. Had almost settled on opening a Vanguard account for a three fund portfolio . But, your comment piqued my interest. Please do elaborate on the CD you were talking about.
My guess is Indian or Brazilian CD-type instruments. To yield 8% inflation probably runs 5-6%, which isn’t America.
Malaysian Government backed CD
Tidak Boleh! I was close.
I love Malaysia. Property is still sooooo cheap there!
Boleh boleh semua boleh! :-)
Malaysia has one saying ‘Malaysia boleh’
use stop losses and you won’t lose your 30k :)
Thanks Gary – will look that up :-)
Sorry but it you need to use stop losses than you’re buying the wrong stock. Secondly if you’re investing in the right companies than a correction is a chance to buy everything on sale
I’m a buy and hold dividend investor (in this case specifically in the Canadian market) and recently with QE a lot of Canadian REITs crashed in price, rather than sell out I sold off some profitable stocks (ideal is to use fresh capital but not always possible) and reinvested the profits there. I know own a bunch of quality REITS as yielding over 8% and at low risk.
I’d be happy for a correction, it means all the yields would jump.
Best investing book is Millionaire Teacher bar none. Alternative is to google Dividend Growth stocks
I’ll add in comments to Sams post in a separate comment.
Afterthought. Stop loss orders are helpful if you’re a trader, not so helpful if you’re a long term buy and hold investor.
It depends! Stop losses are great but bad for 2 reasons:
1- if a stock opens in gap down or collapse after hour you are screwed
2- if you put a stop loss too close and the stock is thin you may sell it before it goes up again
On property rental location is everything in the end as you point out often Sam
Good luck to all!
1- you can use a stop limit order to prevent this
2- agreed – which is why I usually trade stocks with tight spreads (meaning there is a good market for that stock). if you check out the chandelier exit it takes volatility into account and can help you select a good exit price
Thanks man! I actually didnt know about stop limit. I will look into it
That’s ironic you say you have no guts to invest long term yet you admit to trying to beat the market…I recommend doing some heavy reading on the difference in investing and speculation.
That is why I mentioned it is my fear, everytime I invest for long term, I look at it everyday and pull out when I cannot stomach it! Then I re-invest when I think ok I will get a good deal. It is a vicious cycle and really got to do with my emotions. I should invest and not look at it – but I just cant.
Understand how you feel, switch over to dividend growth stocks and sleep better at night. In other words buy and hold quality dividend stocks.
Phil Town’s Payback time is an excellent book to learn to value companies. Joshua Kennon on the website about.com is also a good way to learn to read balance sheets, income statements and cash flow statements for valuing companies. It will help you feel more secure in your stock selections. If you do your due diligence, then you shouldn’t have to worry.