Fresh Life Advice aims to aid you in taking control of your money by increasing your savings and reducing your spending. FLA will encourage you and help you along your journey to financial independence. I am not a licensed financial advisor. More importantly, FLA does not condone in investing something you do not understand. My goal is give readers a better understanding of his or her own personal finances.
Happy one year blog anniversary to Fresh Life Advice! One year ago, I opened the doors of FreshLifeAdvice.com to the world.
Of course, these doors are electronic and metaphorical.
As a teenager, I can remember using some super cool website called Myspace.com to learn about HTML coding and website building. Myspace was the first social network to reach a global audience, but we all know how the rest of that story ended…
Rest in peace to Myspace as we pour one out for Tom.
Soon, Mark Zuckerberg took over the social media sphere. With roughly 2.89 billion monthly active users as of the second quarter of 2021, Facebook is now the biggest social network worldwide. In the third quarter of 2012, the number of active Facebook users surpassed one billion, making it the first social network ever to do so.
The internet, social media, and technology, in general, are rapidly changing. I had always wanted to a piece of that pie. FLA was my chance of making a small contribution to the big world wide web.
How FreshLifeAdvice.com Was Born
After college, I wanted to fill my free time with a project that would be beneficial to the general public.
I was already writing anything and everything to escape from the daily struggle of the corporate world. Lengthy emails to friends and colleagues, forum posts about stocks, and even personal journal entries.
FLA was born with the mission in mind to help 10 million people with their own path to financial freedom. It sounds crazy, but every life-changing invention also sounded crazy before it revolutionized its respective industry.
As of January 2021, there were 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide – 59.5 percent of the global population. Of this total, 92.6 percent (4.32 billion) accessed the internet via mobile devices. Six in every ten people around the globe now use the internet…
Sure, the internet had plenty of personal finance blogs, but they all had a similar theme. Older retired bloggers who already had a large nest egg just didn’t seem relatable to the younger crowd about to embark on an arduous start to their careers. To be fair, they did inspire me to envision a prosperous future.
The millennial generation is who I wanted to reach, because, well…I’m a part of that crowd.
The mid-20s person sits at a fork in the road. It’s the age when the world presents a choice: head down a path of continuous stress and financial woes, or set yourself up for a lifetime of money mastery.
My net worth steadily grew after the Post-2008 financial crisis. Having this credibility might help people take my advice seriously, so I purchased the domain FreshLifeAdvice.com through Bluehost for any aspiring website owners.
The goal was to put a fresh perspective on personal finance. Hence, Fresh Life Advice was born.
The Great Blogging Experiment – One Year Later
I then spent the next six months nervously designing the site. Hey, I had some good-looking shoes to fill!
Of course, the design wasn’t actually the 6-month hang-up. Truthfully, I was terrified of going live.
What if nobody likes my writing? What if nobody cares what I say? And what if the only visitors are me and my mom, again?
Publishing all your thoughts and opinions for the world to see is scary enough. Baring all on a subject as taboo as money is even scarier.
Against my better judgment, on September 01, 2020, the blog you’re reading right now went live. This was the post.
When I published that first article, I made myself a promise: I was going to make it to FLA’s 1st blog anniversary, no matter what, before I could give up.
I knew I enjoyed writing, but the internet is a big place. And I was just one voice in the chatter. Maybe after one year, I’d be able to tell if anyone cared.
Well, here we are. One year later. I’m happy to report that the site has been a raging success, and I have zerointentions to shut it down.
This blogging experiment has truly been one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever involved myself in. Every time I receive a personal reader email, an inspiring article comment, or an enthusiastic Facebook share, I can’t help but get excited and marvel at the wonders of the internet.
So, I want to say THANK YOU! At the risk of sounding extremely cliché, you – the reader – are what makes this site what it is.
I’m just a guy typing some nonsense on a keyboard. You’re the one who keeps this site alive.
One Year of FreshLifeAdvice.com Blog Anniversary Statistics
299 Page views in the blog’s first month.
150 About how many of those page views came from me.
100 Page views the first day I thought an article went viral. I remember my heart pounding as I watched the page stats, refreshing them repeatedly.
697 The most page views in a single month.
8 Total email subscribers after the first 4 months.
52 Email subscribers today. (You are on the cool kids’ email list, right?)
25 Total articles published in the past year.
2,217 Average Words Per Post
470,000 Total number of words in the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, together with its 1993 Addenda Section.
52,070 Total number of words written by FLA. That’s 11% of the entire English Dictionary!
82 International countries reached out the of possible total 195 countries. That’s 42% of the world!
‘Mr. Worldwide’ refers to the self-ascribed nickname of American rapper and music producer Pitbull. Soon, FLA will self-ascribe a similar nickname of ‘Mr. Personal Finance Worldwide’.
These top 5 blogger commenters certainly deserve a shout-out. They’ve supported this site from the beginning. I enjoy reading and commenting on as many personal finance blogs as I can.
The Most Popular Day is Friday, accounting for 21% of views. And the Most Popular Time is 3:00 PM, accounting for 9% of views.
There must be something about Fresh Life Advice that really gets people excited about their weekends.
The stats don’t lie. Every single human falls into one or more of the DISC personality traits so it was no surprise this appeal to many different audiences. It was FLA’s way of putting a fresh twist on personality tests and spending habits.
Conveniently, this post checks both boxes of fun and helpful.
Index funds have been touted across the finance world as the proven way to invest hard earned cash. However, the wealthy have turned their backs on passively managed index funds for other types of assets. But why? Why don’t the rich invest in index funds?
Despite popularity, the ultra-wealthy high net worth individuals aren’t as apt to invest in these low-cost funds.
What are Index Funds? What’s the Advantage?
An index fund is a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund designed to follow certain preset rules so that the fund can track a specified basket of underlying investments.
Over the long term, index funds have generally outperformed other types of mutual funds. Other benefits of index funds include low fees, tax advantages (they generate less taxable income), and low risk (since they’re highly diversified).
At FLA, we preach choosing passively managed index funds or ETF’s (i.e., NYSEARCA: VTI or MUTF: VTSAX) with the lowest expense ratios (less than 0.15%) in lieu of picking individual stocks, mutual funds with high fees, or actively managed hedge funds.
Let us dig into the pros and cons of index funds:
Pros of Index Funds
Losing the principal investment is an investor’s worst nightmare. Index funds offer a low-risk option for investing in batch of stocks. They are inherently diversified, representing many different sectors within an index, which protects against deep losses. When one index is performing better than others, the index fund effectively captures these gains that individual stock picking gurus may miss out on.
2. Steady Growth
A central advantage to index funds is that they are designed for steady, long-term growth. The ideal timeline for an investor is to have their money compound forever. No one can predict the future. As a result, having so many stocks in one fund allows for diversification in addition to a self-cleansing system. The dogs are ousted, and the winners continue to ride high.
Index funds are not designed to beat the market, but simply capture the average return. Stock-picking is much harder than one would expect. For instance, U.S. News & World Report noted in 2011 that index funds tied to the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) index generated better returns over the previous three years than almost two-thirds of large-cap actively managed mutual funds.
3. Low Fees
Index funds offer lower fees for investors than non-index funds. This means that even when a non-index fund outperforms index funds, it must perform better by a certain margin to generate returns that overcome the management fees that it charges.
Cons of Index Funds
1. Lack of Flexibility
Because index fund managers must follow policies and strategies that require them to attempt to perform in lockstep with an index, they enjoy less flexibility than managed funds. Investment decisions on index funds must be made within the constraints of matching index returns. For instance, if the returns in an index are declining strongly, index fund managers have few options to attempt to limit those losses. In contrast, managers of an actively managed fund have more flexibility to act to find better-performing options in good times or in bad.
2. No Big Gains
An index fund does not carry the potential to outpace the market the way that managed funds can. This means that if you invest in an index fund you are surrendering the possibility of a massive gain. The top-performing non-index funds can perform far better than the top-performing index funds in a given year. However, the top-performing non-index funds may vary from year to year, so those under-performing years can cancel out the over-performing ones, while index funds’ performance remains steadier.
Why invest in VTSAX or VTI?
Beats 82% of active managed funds
Expense ratio of 0.04% / 0.03%
Self-cleansing (companies come and go)
Tracks the U.S. stock market.
Buy the whole stack, instead of looking for the needles.
Why Are Index Funds So Popular?
A stock index consists of a basket of stocks that is meant to represent something else. Sometimes, this something else is an entire stock market. Other times, this something else is a section of a stock market that serves as a stand-in for either an industry or some other kind of segment.
Whatever the case, it is very common to see interested individuals put their money in an index fund, which is either a mutual fund or an exchange-traded fund that tracks an underlying index.
Index fund investing has become popular since Jack Bogle of Vanguard introduced the Vanguard 500 fund in 1976. The fund tracked the returns of the S&P 500 and marked the first index fund marketed to retail investors.
Index investing is popular for a variety of reasons:
Index investing is a very passive way of investing, which can be contrasted with more active investment strategies that see individuals buying and selling stocks on a regular basis.
It’s extremely tough to beat the market in the long run. Once taxes and trading costs are incorporated into calculations, the index funds prevail.
There is empirical evidence that shows actively managed funds consistently underperform in the long run.
Index investing is a very useful way for investors to protect themselves from non-systematic risks through means of diversification. This is due to the fact they have spread out their money rather than concentrate it in the stocks of a small number of companies.
Individual stock picking can be time consuming. Many hours of research are required before an investor has truly educated opinion on whether to invest. Index funds a practical solution that reduces the necessary time and effort.
Unless you have the knowledge, time, and patience to vet each individual company you’re considering before buying its stock, you could wind up with a portfolio that’s weighed down with bad deals and underperformers. That’s one reason why many investors tend to appreciate the beauty of index funds.
Fees Add Up
When you invest in any mutual fund, you pay a set of annual fees that add up to its expense ratio. In exchange for the actively managed fund’s cost, you are getting the expertise of a seasoned fund manager. The manager and their team will assemble a well-researched collection of stocks, put it into a neat package, and shift the fund’s holdings when they see that as a smart idea.
That doesn’t come cheap.
With index funds, by contrast, most of that work (and pricey expertise) is not necessary, so their expense ratios can be as little as one-tenth of what you’d pay for an actively managed fund. But despite the many benefits of index funds, they aren’t particularly popular among wealthy investors.
Why the Rich Tend to Look Elsewhere
Index funds are an extremely cost-effective, convenient investment choice. But they generally aim to match the performance of their associated indexes, not surpass it. The ultra-wealthy, however, may not be satisfied with that.
Instead, they turn to other money-making assets, such as private equity, art, and even IPO’s. These investments are often far riskier than your average index fund, but they have far greater upside potential. The wealthy can take on this risk because they can still get back on their feet, even after losing a relatively large sum of money. The middle and lower classes do not have this luxury.
Let’s walk through a scenario.
Imagine that you have $500,000 invested in stocks in your tax-advantaged retirement accounts. That’s probably a lot of cash for you. If your portfolio declined in value by half, or worse, it could have a major impact on your future quality of life.
But, for example, someone with an investment portfolio worth $50 million could suffer a major loss and would still be left very relatively wealthy. That allows them the freedom to take on more risk than the average retail investor would be comfortable with.
The rich can pursue high-risk, high-reward investment opportunities without worries because their wealth can make for a very effective cushion from such problems.
In fact, wealthy investors often favor actively managed mutual funds. Their iffy odds of delivering that sought-after outperformance can be overwhelming appealing despite the higher fees. The large majority of actively managed funds won’t beat the market, and over multi-year periods, the share of them that do, drops even further. By contrast, index funds often outperform active funds across different asset classes.
The wealthy also can more easily invest in real estate, antiques, and other less-liquid assets — whereas you probably can’t afford to take on the risk associated with buying a $100,000 piece of art you hope will appreciate in value. And in the “actively managed” sphere, the wealthy also have the ability to put money into hedge funds, which most of us are legally barred from.
In order to protect normal people, the SEC has created all sorts of rules and regulations for how companies that invest money on behalf of other people should operate. While this makes the investments safer and less volatile, it prevents the firm making investments from chasing riskier but possibly more profitable investments.
Hedge funds are not allowed to have more than 100 investors, and they are not allowed to take on any investors with less than $1 million in wealth.
The goal of hedge funds is to earn absolute returns. What this means is that they make money every year, regardless of what the stock market does. A few funds have done this, but 2008 demonstrated that most funds were bluffing in saying they were able to do that, and many of them went out of business.
Why Don’t the Wealthy Invest in Low-Fee Index Funds?
They sometimes do. But it is also easier to buy individual stocks when one is investing large sums.
Also, many wealthy people have business experience which gives them insight into economic trends and specific companies. This leads them to buy individual stocks. Whether they perform better than the indexes is not assured.
A majority of the wealthy seek for Alpha. The finance world defines Alpha (α) as excess or abnormal return over a benchmark index.
In addition, they want to diversify their portfolio across asset class and earn underlying performance return, which is different from an index fund. This has resulted in huge investment growth in the following:
Portfolio Management Service (PMS)
The wealthy use these investment vehicles because there is a barrier to entry with high entrance costs. These risky investments generally require large buy-in costs and carry high fees, while promising the opportunity for outsized rewards.
High Risk, High Reward
Over the past 90 years, the S&P 500 averaged around a 9.5% annualized return. You’d think the rich would be satisfied with that type of return on their investments. For example, $10,000 invested in the S&P 500 in 1955 would be worth more than $3 million at the end of 2016. Investing in the whole market with index funds offers consistent returns while minimizing the risks associated with individual stocks.
But the wealthy can afford to take some risks in the service of multiplying their millions (or billions). For another example, look at world-famous investor and speculator George Soros. He once made $1.5 billion in one month by betting that the British pound and several other European currencies were overvalued against the German Deutsche mark.
Hedge funds aim for those sorts of extraordinary gains, although history is filled with examples of years when many hedge funds failed to outperform the stock market indices. But they can also pay off in a big way for their rich clients. That’s why the wealthy are willing to risk hefty buy-in fees of $100,000 to $25 million for the opportunity to reap great returns.
The one percent’s investing habits also tend to reflect their interests. As most wealthy people earned their millions (or billions) from business, they see this path as a way to continue maximizing their finances while sticking to what they know best — corporate structure and market performance.
For that matter, the rich can sink their money into luxuries such as art pieces, sprawling real estate properties, cars, and other collectibles. In this case, they can enjoy grandeur while still benefiting from their increase in value over time. By buying these luxuries, the wealthy not only enhance their lifestyles but also enjoy the value appreciation as a nice bonus.
How the Wealthy Invest
As an example, let’s look at the former CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer. He holds a net worth of about $84 billion in 2021. Even after walking away from Microsoft, Ballmer owns over 300 million shares in the company. This alone translates to a multi-billion-dollar investment.
Some of the other ways Ballmer chose to invest his money included:
A roughly 4% stake in Twitter (before he sold his shares in 2018)
Real estate investments in Hunts Point, Washington, and Whidbey Island
Purchase and ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team for $2 billion.
The rich can make huge investments in the industries that catch their interest, as shown by the numerous businesspeople who have winded up buying sports teams of one kind or another.
Ballmer’s wealth is concentrated in a handful of investments. This is a far cry from the hundreds of investments that come with Buffett’s and other personal finance gurus’ recommendation of buying low fee index funds.
Hedge funds are likewise popular with the wealthy. These funds of the rich require investors to demonstrate $5,000,000 or more in net worth! The sophisticated strategies intended to beat the market are the allure of the funds. But hedge funds charge approximately 2% of fees and 20% of profits. Investors need to get huge returns to support those high fees!
This isn’t to suggest that the wealthy don’t own traditional stocks, bonds, and fund investments—they do. Yet, their riches and interests open doors to other types of exciting and exclusive investments that aren’t typically available to the average person.
The Bottom Line
It is true that the wealthy have many opportunities not readily available to the middle and lower class. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they are guaranteed higher rates of return. They won’t always beat index funds, but they more often than not can afford to take on this risk. All in all, they are less dependent on steady growth and returns.
Warren Buffett might be the world’s most famous investor, and he frequently touts the benefits of investing in low-cost index funds. In fact, he’s instructed the trustee of his estate to invest in index funds.
“My advice to the trustee couldn’t be more simple: Put 10% of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low-cost S&P 500 index fund.”
-Berkshire Hathaway’s 2013 annual letter to shareholders
If a simple, straightforward low-fee index fund is good enough for Warren Buffett, then it’s certainly adequate for the average investor.
Even though index funds aren’t popular among the very rich, they’re still a great choice for the everyday investor. If that’s the category you identify with, you’d be wise to add some to your portfolio. They may not make you rich overnight. However, by capitalizing on the broad long-term gains of the U.S. market, you could accumulate quite a substantial sum over time and achieve your own financial goals.
Disclosure: Fresh Life Advice is an opinion-based website. I am not a financial advisor, and the opinions on this site should not be considered financial advice.
Disclosure: Fresh Life Advice may receive commissions for affiliate links included in this stocks article. However, we only include links to products that we believe in and utilize ourselves. These recommendations are not given out lightly.
The Main Rules of Fresh Life Advice Stock Investing Strategy
Of all the articles published in this blog’s archives, you can really boil down my incoherent ramblings into a few fundamentals that anyone can use to become a wealthy investor:
Save more than you spend. Live below your means to be able to invest as much money as possible and as early as possible.
Choose passively managed index funds or ETF’s (i.e. NYSEARCA: VTI or MUTF: VTSAX) with the lowest expense ratios (less than 0.15%) in lieu of picking individual stocks, mutual funds with high fees, or actively managed hedge funds.
Buy and hold for as long as possible, preferably forever. The longer you remain invested, the less “rigged” the market is.
Pick a portfolio allocation and stick to it. Asset allocation trumps stock-picking and a constant search for alpha.
With all that being said, sometimes I will occasionally indulge my animalistic instincts and make speculative plays. In these cases, I am essentially betting on a certain equity (stock) to outperform the market.
But it’s important to realize individual stock investing should not be the majority of your portfolio. We are talking less than 20% of your net worth. Think of it as fun money. If you theoretically lost it all, you would not be devastated.
I know, even losing more than a penny, can be devastating to one’s fragile ego.
INVESTING IN INDIVIDUAL STOCKS
Investing in individual stocks and equities can be overwhelming. There are so many options to choose from. How do you know which will perform well?
The truth is… No one knows.
No one can confidently predict the future without knowing. That’s why investing in low cost index funds is such a trusted solution.
In general, the index funds track the overall market performance. Since indexes like the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) are composed of 500 large public stocks, they can capture the stocks that do incredibly well. However, they also contain stocks that possibly underperform or file for bankruptcy.
The world usually references the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average as two major indexes that capture the stock market. They are two different indexes, but both are composed of some of the major companies that drive the market.
Although there is no way to tell what the future holds, studying the general market structure and where we are in the current market cycle can help provide a framework for better decision making and future market expectations.
The chart below shows the historical performance of the S&P 500 Index throughout the U.S. Bull and Bear Markets from 1926 all the way up to 2019. It’s imperative to remember past performance is no guarantee of future results. Nevertheless, looking at the history of the market’s expansions and recessions does help to gain a ‘Fresh Life Advice’ perspective on the benefits of investing for the long haul.
On the other hand, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is comprised of 30 large public companies. In the financial industry, the DJIA is used as a benchmark for the largest stock market in the world.
What can you observe from looking at the charts above?
Have a child look at this, and even they will be able to tell you the line goes up over time.
Investing, otherwise known as buying and holding, is notthe same as gambling. If you invest in the market long enough, your investment will increase! Great news for investors!
Due to the former factors, the rate of return for index funds is much more stable than for individual stocks. In other words, the increases and decreases may not be as significant as other equities. This is also what’s known in the finance world as lower volatility.
Stocks are a risky investment vehicle – don’t get me wrong. But index funds are so diversified that it’s nearly impossible for you to lose your entire investment since the fund is unlikely to crash 100% when so many different companies are held in the fund portfolio.
However, as we’ve seen in the past (Covid-19 Correction of March 2020, Financial Crisis of 2008-2009, Dot-Com Bubble of 2000, etc.), investing in individual companies that do go bankrupt can lead to you lose all of your equity in that respective company.
“The markets can stay irrational longer than we can stay solvent…”
– John Maynard Keynes, Economist
Essentially, just because you made the right fundamental investment doesn’t mean the market will treat you fairly. It’s an “Eat-or-be-eaten” world. And the market can easily strip you of all your hard-earned money if you aren’t careful with your risk.
I’m a firm believer that you should never invest in anything that causes you to lose sleep. Dale Carnegie mentions in his famous best-selling book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.
Without further ado, the two main approaches to use for investing in individual stocks are fundamental analysis and technical analysis.
Fundamental analysis measures stocks by looking at their intrinsic value. For this theory, companies are worth the net present value of their cash flows. Long-term investors study everything from the overall economy and industry conditions to the financial strength and management of individual companies. Earnings, expenses, assets, and liabilities all come under scrutiny by fundamental analysts.
Let’s run through 3 main aspects of fundamentals to check before investing in a stock.
1. Quarterly Earnings
Quarterly earnings are arguably the most important quality of a good stock.
If the company is consistently making money, you will be consistently making money too!
People always like to advise “Let your winners win”. I interpret this as the classic buy and never sell model that Warren Buffett’s mentor, Benjamin Graham, preaches in his book The Intelligent Investor. The underlying basis of this novel is fundamental analysis.
Companies that flaunt consistent earnings beat will see a steady increase in price. This is a major indication that the company is doing something right.
Many investment gurus also claim that past performance does not indicate future results. There is no denying this, but instincts tell us this isn’t painting the whole picture.
Warren Buffett bought more than $1 billion of Coca-Cola (KO) shares in 1988, an amount equivalent to 6.2% of the company, making it the largest position in his portfolio at the time. It remains one of Berkshire Hathaway’s biggest holdings today. Coca-Cola’s iconic name and global reach created a moat around its core soft drink product, so Buffett did not have to worry a competitor would come and take away its market share.
There was a profound perspective Warren touted: no matter who was the CEO of Coca-Cola, the company would still thrive due to the economic powerhouse it had become.
For 99% of the other companies, leadership matters. If a company doesn’t have a strong C-Suite or Board of Directors, the company’s profits may suffer too.
3. PE Ratio
Price-to-Earnings (P/E) Ratio: A ratio used for valuing companies and to find out whether they are overvalued or undervalued.
A highPrice-Earnings ratio indicates that investors are expecting higher growth of company’s earnings in the future compared to companies with a lower Price-Earnings ratio.
A lowPrice-Earnings ratio may indicate either that a company may currently be undervalued or that the company is doing exceptionally well relative to its past trends.
When a company has no earnings or is posting losses, in both cases P/E will be expressed as “N/A.” Though it is possible to calculate a negative P/E, this is not the common convention.
In general, if you see this P/E ratio higher than 30, the stock is likely overvalued unless there is significant future growth planned.
Siegel is the Russell E. Palmer Professor of Finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He discusses extensively on the economy and financial markets.
PE Ratio in Action
In his novel, Siegel argues that P/E ratio matters. He compares all kinds of stocks. For example, he asks you if you’d rather invest in Standard Oil of NJ or IBM from 1950 to 2003. What do you think?
Initial instinct tells you IBM because of the technological revolution. As a result, IBM did well because investors expected it to do well.
The basic principle of return states that the long-term return on a stock depends not on the actual growth of its earnings but on how those earnings compare to what investors expected.
The results? Standard Oil of NJ beat out IBM by a narrow margin of a 14.42% return vs a 13.83% return.
Although the difference seems small, when you look at equal initial investments of $1,000 in each company, the outcome is astounding!
After 53 years, the small investment in the oil giant yields $1,260,000 while IBM yields $961,000. That’s 24% less…
Who really would want to leave that $299,000 difference on the table? No one.
Siegel also strongly advises reinvesting dividends, just like I do in my monthly income reports. Reinvesting dividends is the critical factor giving the edge to most winning stocks in the long run.
Siegel has stated that IPOs typically disappoint. In fact, he analyzed 9,000 IPOs between 1968 and 2003 and concluded that they consistently underperformed a small-cap index in nearly 4 out 5 cases. That’s a whopping 80%! Others disagree, especially with some of the hottest tech IPO’s that debuted between 2003 and present day.
If you were curious, Siegel has found the best performing stock from 1925 to 2003. Not many would have guessed it, but Phillip Morris, now known as Altria Group (NYSE: MO), dominated.
Phillip Morris (NYSE: MO)
Abbott Labs (NYSE: ABT)
Bristol Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY)
Tootsie Rolls (NYSE: TR)
I’m sure no one would have expected Tootsie Rolls to be on that list, but chocolate candies were popular during this time!
The top 20 average is 15.26%, versus 10.85% for the S&P 500.
Average PE ratio of these companies is 19.04 versus S&P 500 PE ratio of 17.35.
Note that the average dividend yield is 3.40%, so they return cash to shareholders.
Siegel says if you look at every stock traded from 1925, the best performing stock is Phillip Morris. If you look at the best performing stock since 1950, it is Philip Morris. What is best stock since 1957? You guessed it – Philip Morris.
If you put $1,000 in the S&P 500 in 1957, it would be $124,522 by the end of 2004.
If you had put that same $1,000 in Philip Morris, it would be worth $4.6 million.
Philip Morris has even paid $125 billion to litigants for cigarette liability… And they still have outperformed the rest of the market.
History shows that, on average, just two stocks from the global market-cap top 10 list remain on the list a decade later. The two survivors almost always include the number-one stock.
But the number-one stock has never been top dog a decade later, ultimately underperforming and moving lower in the list. The second surviving stock has 50/50 odds of beating the market. If this history repeats, 9 of the top 10 market-cap stocks will underperform the market over the next 10 years, and just one has a 50% chance of underperforming.
Fundamental Analysis Summary
Companies are worth the net present value of their cash flows
Buy and hold companies priced below their intrinsic value
Markets are 90% rational, 10% psychological
Technical analysis uses visual patterns on a chart created by price to determine where the market is moving. For technical analysis, traders attempt to identify opportunities by looking at statistical trends, such as movements in a stock’s price and volume. Traders theorize there is no need to pay attention to the fundamentals since they are assumed to be factored into the price already. Technical analysts do not attempt to measure a security’s intrinsic value. Instead, they use stock charts to identify patterns and trends that suggest what a stock will do in the future.
1. RSI Indicator
Relative Strength Index (RSI): A momentum oscillator that is able to measure the velocity and magnitude of stock price changes.
The relative strength index (RSI) conveys a stock’s momentum, where RSI is calculated as the ratio of positive price changes to negative price changes.
RSI analysis compares the current RSI against different conditions.
An RSI value of 70 indicates the stock is Overbought. Recommended Action: Hold or Sell.
An RSI value of 50 indicates the stock is Neutral. Recommended Action: Hold.
An RSI value of 30 indicates the stock is Oversold. Recommended Action: Buy.
When determining whether to buy a stock, you should go through many steps. Some steps are implicit, but all are necessary in the process.
When checking the RSI of a stock, ensure the indicator somewhere between 25 and 45 before pulling the trigger on the ‘Buy’ button.
2. MACD Indicator
Moving Average Convergence-Divergence (MACD): Difference between short-term and long-term exponential moving averages, as plotted against a center line that represents where the two averages equal each other.
The best-known volume indicator is the moving average convergence-divergence (MACD) indicator.
A positive MACD value shows that the short-term average is above the long-term average and the market should move upward. Recommended Action: Hold or Sell.
A negative MACD value shows that the short-term average is below the long-term average and that the market is moving downward. Recommended Action: Buy.
When the MACD is plotted on a chart, and its line crosses the centerline, it shows when the moving averages that make it up cross over.
The MACD indicator is the most popular tool in technical analysis because it gives traders the ability to quickly and easily identify the short-term trend direction. This helps traders to ensure that they are trading in the direction of momentum.
3. ADX Indicator
Average Directional Index (ADX): Uses positive and negative directional indicators to determine how strong an uptrend or downtrend is on a scale of 0 to 100.
Values below 25 indicate a weak trend.
Values over25 indicate a strong trend.
The ADX indicator can be used to dictate if a security is trending or not. This deduction helps traders choose between a trend-following system or a non-trend-following system. The ADX indicator is an average of expanding price range values.
The Aroon indicator is a very similar tool to analyze trends. The ADX is composed of a total of 3 lines, while the Aroon indicator is composed of 2.
The Aroon indicator plots the lengths of time since the highest and lowest trading prices were reached, using that data to ascertain the nature and strength of the trend or the onset of a new trend.
Technical Analysis Summary
Companies are worth what other investors perceive their as their worth
Buy and sell companies based on movement in stock prices
Markets are 10% rational, 90% psychological
If you want to learn more about technical analysis, a great place to start is Technical Analysis for Dummies. Don’t be too offended by the title. The book really does a great job of taking a complex subject and educating using terms that an average investor can easily digest.
ARE STOCK ANALYSIS METHODS OUTDATED?
We can look at popular stock like Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and wonder “Is fundamental analysis broken?”
Here, we see the PE ratio of Amazon reached insane levels of near 500 in 2016. Yes, shareholders were paying more than 500 times the earnings…
Yet, when we look at the stock price graph above, the stock continued to soar despite overvaluation.
Some of the most popular tech stocks are from the FAAMG acronym, which stands for:
Facebook (NASDAQ: FB)
Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN)
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL)
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT)
Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL / NASDAQ: GOOG)
As of April 01, 2021, the market capitalization of these companies summed up to $848.14B + $1.58T + $2.06T + $1.82T + $1.44T = $7.75 trillion.
Each of the stocks in the FAAMG class is in the top 10, by market cap, of the S&P 500 index. Although the five stocks are only 1% of the 500 companies in the index, they make up 22% of the market value weighting in the S&P 500.
Since the S&P 500 has widely been accepted as representation of the US economy, a collective upward (or downward) movement in the stock performance of FAAMG will most likely lead to a similar movement in the index and the market.
Some experts are predicting another tech bubble and market crash like the one in 2000.
However, some analysts have noted that there is a major difference this time. Nowadays, there is plenty room for the current tech class to grow as areas of cloud computing, social media, e-commerce, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and big data are still being explored and developed.
Only time will tell.
It feels like everyone is day trading or hitting the jackpot. Remind yourself to stay on your own investing course. Boring and slow often is the way to wealth.
USING FUNDAMENTAL AND TECHNICAL ANALYSIS TOGETHER
The Efficient Market Hypothesis argues that asset prices reflect all available information, so you cannot reliably use fundamental analysis (expert stock selection) or technical analysis (market timing) alone to outperform the overall market.
Should you buy what’s been working? Pour money into your losers? Pick new stocks altogether?
Yes, buying individual stocks offers the potential for greater gains but it also opens you up to all sorts of psychological pitfalls that don’t necessarily apply when owning the entire stock market.
The problem for many investors these days is they only believe in their stocks when they’re rising. If you don’t believe in those same stocks when they’re falling, you have no business owning them over the long haul.
You don’t have to meticulously study the stock market day in and day out like some hedge funds or financial analysts, but if you keep an occasional watchful eye, you will be able to tell when the stock market is hot or cooling off.
Buy low, sell high. You’re well aware of this trite advice, but it’s easier said than done. When you’re experiencing 30% – 50% drops of your entire net worth within months, and even in the short span of days, are you really going to have the discipline to refrain from panic selling?
This is, by all means, not the most comprehensive method of buying stocks. However, I can guarantee you’ll have an edge over the average Joe.
One of the biggest reasons why I believe my portfolio has outperformed the S&P is pure luck because I never sell. I’ve never sold a stock.
And I don’t plan to until I actually need the money. You ask – when will that be, FLA?
Once I’ve left my corporate 9-5 job, I will live off the dividends of my stocks to financially support my ideal retirement.
WIN OR LOSE
Don’t forget that for every stock buy, there is someone on the other side of the deal that is selling their shares. That’s mainly where you see the buy / ask price. The broker is looking for a seller that agrees to the asking price.
The bid price refers to the highest price a buyer will pay for a security. The ask price refers to the lowest price a seller will accept for a security. The spread is the difference between these two prices. The smaller the spread, the greater the liquidity is of the given security.
For every stock transaction, there will be a winner and loser. Which side will you be on?
Disclosure: Fresh Life Advice is an opinion-based website. I am not a financial advisor, and the opinions on this site should not be considered financial advice.
So what is going on with GameStop stock? What has happened to the stock ticker NYSE: GME? Let’s break it down into layman’s terms and explain this roller coaster ride of a company.
GameStop Corp. went from being nearly bankrupt to seeing its shares up by 2,000% in less than a week — but how did it happen, what’s Reddit have to do with it, and is it even legal?
First, let us define some financial terms.
What Does This Have To Do With Hedge Funds?
Hedge Fund: A group of investors with large amounts of capital – think in terms of billions. These funds hire analysts to track trends in the market to “hedge” against changes in the future.
Point72 Asset Management, Melvin Capital, Citron Research, D1 Capital Partners, Maplelane Capital, and Candlestick Capital Management are all hedge funds that have suffered immense losses, some in the range of billions of dollars, due to the events that have unfolded around GameStop Corp.
How Does Short Selling Work?
Short Selling: Basically, you borrow a stock on credit, and sell it to someone else. Then, you offer to buy it back when the price decreases. Ultimately, you gain the difference in price and it has been the traditional way to gain money off a market crash or decline.
I’d recommend watching the movie The Big Short as it effectively delves into how short selling was pragmatically utilized during the Financial crisis of 2007–2008. The movie also helps to visualize how the economic collapse in America transpired.
In addition, it may be helpful to watch Season 1 Episode 4 of the HBO show Billions because the episode conveys a prime fictitious example of a short squeeze.
Short Squeeze: When two of these hedge funds get into a financial argument, one fund often shorts because they think the stock will go down, and one buys because they think it will go up. The one buying attempts to buy faster than the stock was dipping to put pressure on the shorter to buy back stock to cover its losses.
Okay, thank you for making it this far, very boring, I know.
GameStop Stock (GME) Frenzy
So what happened is there’s a group of individuals on Reddit that like to gamble on stocks (it is speculative gambling, some may argue investing, but advisors can assure you otherwise) called WallStreetBets (WSB). These guys are as young as 17 years old, using new apps like Robinhood that make investing cheap and easy.
WSB were tracking a regime change at GameStop (yes, that video game store). For those of you unfamiliar, GameStop is an American video game, consumer electronics, and gaming merchandise retailer.
GameStop Corp. got a new investor that wanted to change the business strategy there, citing management problems being the biggest issue for the failing company. The investor started working on developing an online presence for the company to buy/rent/sell games for better prices than they were currently offering. This amelioration took the price from about $4 per share in June/July of 2020 to upwards of $10 per share in August/September of the same year.
This was a problem though… “But stocks going up are good, right?” Right… Unless you were shorting the stock due to a guaranteed decline on the back of an outdated business model turning negative revenue.
That’s right, our old friends – those aforementioned hedge funds, had shorted GME upwards of 140% of the available GameStop stock. This was actually such a heavy short that it was contributing to the decline of the stock price up until the regime change.
Meanwhile, on the subreddit WSB, some of these guys figured it out, and began buying the stock, simultaneously encouraging others to buy as well. The stock even got an unexpected bump from Tesla’s / SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk’s tweet.
See, the hedge funds were so confident they could keep the price down, they did not anticipate a short squeeze, but a couple hundred thousand people on the Internet got together and began squeezing anyway. And squeezing, and squeezing until BOOM…
Suddenly, GME hits all-time highs $100, $150, $200, $300, and $400 per share. At its highest peak, the company was valued high enough to be in the Fortune 500. Yes, you read that correctly. GameStop in the Fortune 500! This is all occurring while GameStop’s physical stores are closing down from lack of business during a global pandemic.
This hit the hedge funds so hard that they borrowed (legitimately) almost 3 billion dollars to short against a couple hundred thousand guys on the Internet.
Some of these WSB guys (and teenagers) have made between $100k and $25 million. They are paying off student loans, medical bills, paying their way through college, etc.
And the hedge funds? Some of them are reporting a 100% loss (in the billions of dollars, mind you).
Why Is This Significant? Should I Care?
Why is this significant if there’s no way this can last? Yes, GME will go back down probably to $20 and there’s no way to tell when. It’s a ticking time bomb of a stock.
But, some of these same hedge funds were bailed out between 2008 and 2010 by the federal government. Guess what. These funds were just taken to the cleaners by a bunch of college-aged common folk with nothing but a free app and a Discord server so they could pay for college and also get rich.
Don’t let anyone tell you that this was some sort of illegal scheme or the poor fund managers are losing too much money. These games are played on Wall Street all the time. That’s just the way the system is set up. This anomaly proved that anything can happen.
How Much Money Are We Talking?
Here’s the original guy on Reddit posting his 20 MILLION DOLLAR gain in ONE DAY. For a grand total of 48 MILLION DOLLARS LEFT IN THE MARKET.
He bought 500 call contracts (100 shares per contract ) at $0.20 per share and bought 50,000 shares at about 15 dollars per share. For context, if the trend theoretically continued, GME would hit $2k per share in a few weeks, and he will have more money than the entire market cap of GameStop was worth in July 2020.
Where To Go From Here
In modern times, it feels like everyone is day trading or hitting the jackpot. Remind yourself to stay on your own investing course. Boring and slow often is the way to wealth. These market success stories that trickle into the mainstream media are there to grab your attention.
For every person that’s winning big, there’s also someone on the other side of that coin that may have lost their shirt. You rarely hear about those stories because they are not “newsworthy”.
Some people have higher risk tolerances than others. It’s ultimately up to you to determine whether you can stomach the volatility of some of these individual stocks. Is it worth the stress? Can you sleep soundly at night?
As for FLA, we are going to continue touting the index funds that have produced sound returns since the beginning of the stock market. The great news is that we don’t have to be the world’s greatest investor to benefit from this phenomenon. I mean, if FLA lucked his way into this, I think the rest of us will do just fine.
With some of the index funds, you can also rationalize that you do in fact own a small portion of GameStop via the index, along with every other stock in the U.S. market. At least, that’s how I help myself sleep at night.
With enough time and patience, nearly every investment you hold can turn into a money printing machine. And that’s when the compound interest starts to go crazy.
End Game for GameStop Stock
The GameStop C-Suite and board of directors are indeed shareholders of GME and are most likely in awe of their stock’s dramatic increase. We can be sure they have had intense meetings to decide on the next company maneuver.
As of the recent short squeeze, there are simply not enough shares of the GameStop stock to meet the demand in the market. That’s exactly why the stock has skyrocketed. But if GameStop can fill this gap, by raising capital, selling stock, and supplying shares to the market, then they will make a hefty profit.
However, given that the shareholder base is a bunch of teenagers from a subreddit, GameStop should know better not to take money from these people at $200+ per share, let alone the huge commissions that will probably go to Wall Street in a capital raise like this.
All in all, this business is unlikely to support such a high valuation. GameStop is not suddenly the new Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, or Google. It’s still mostly a business that derives its value from brick and mortar stores in malls. If you look around, you know that this is not exactly a big growth area in the coming years.
The WSB community has made a quick buck from the power of technology and online forums, but will it change the way Wall Street operates in the future? I doubt it. To be determined.
These amateur investors have also targeted other heavily shorted names including AMC Entertainment and Bed Bath & Beyond, leaving Wall Street analysts’ targets in the dust.
Robinhood has now restricted users from buying GameStop, AMC, BlackBerry, Nokia stock to stop the madness. I do not see how Robinhood remains unscathed after limiting its users like this.
Disclosure:I / We have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. This site does not receive direct compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
What are your thoughts on the GameStop frenzy? Let me know in the comments below.
The DISC personality assessment shows us that there are four main quadrants or variants of personality, consisting of Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. Which category do you fall under? More importantly, how does your DISC personality affect your spending habits?
The four main DISC personality types stem between two dichotomies: Active or Passive, and Task-Oriented or People-Oriented. When combined in different ways, you get a person who responds drastically differently to a particular conversation, assignment, task, environment, or anything else.
A research white paper done by Bill J. Bonnstetter, Dave Bonnstetter and Ron Bonnstetter, PhD examines 10 different countries and their DISC profile makeup. The following chart conveys how the United States DISC profiles have changed over the last 20 years.
Though it may seem shallow and superficial to categorize all human beings into only 4 categories, it really is remarkable how the combination of nature and nurture effectively influences your overall behavior.
It’s also important to remember that the DISC personality is not meant to judge, but it is intended to be utilized as a useful tool to help you deal and work with others that may or may not have the same personality as oneself.
Let’s take a look at each personality style and how it affects your spending habits.
The D-personality type characterizes people who are Direct, Decisive, and Determined.
They are both Active and Task-Oriented.
D-types ask the “what” questions, “What is the bottom line?” or ” What is in it for me?”
Those with the D (Captain) personality type, also known as Type A personality, tend to be assertive, intense, and ambitious. They are usually pragmatic, results-oriented executors who work quickly and make decisions with firmness and objectivity. With a position on the top left of the DISC, Captains prefer more independence and may be drained when others expect them to be more collaborative.
The D-type of person is most concerned with deadlines. These natural born leaders are afraid of running out of time. It’s very important for them to feel like they are in control to get things done.
Core Belief: I’m valuable if I can produce.
Here are some examples of famous celebrities with the Dominance (D) personality:
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Robert De Niro
Money Strengths: Dominant people love to take action. When you shop, you get things done efficiently. In-and-out. That’s also a great trait to have when others are fearful, let’s say, during a market correction. You’re not afraid to pull the trigger on buying an equity on-sale.
Money Improvement Plan of Action: You can be impulsive at times. Take a step back and take notes from observing your C-type counterparts. Do more research before blindly diving into investments you don’t fully understand. Take a breather and plan out a detailed budget. Once you lay the groundwork, you are ready to continue your “Go-Go-Go” attitude!
The I-personality type characterizes people who are Interactive, Imaginative, and Involved.
They are both Active and People-Oriented.
I-types ask the “who” questions, “Who is at the meeting?” or “Who else uses this?”
People with the I (Motivator) personality type tend to be enthusiastic, cheerful, and outgoing. They typically have an easy, relaxed, casual manner when speaking or interacting with others.
The biggest fear of each group can indicate a lot about that person. For example, the I-style’s biggest fear is rejection. It’s sort of an irrational fear because in many ways, the social butterfly I’s are the life of the party that bring a positive mood to the group or party.
Core Belief: I’m valuable if I can attract people.
Here are some examples of famous celebrities with the Influence (I) personality:
Dick Van Dyke
John F. Kennedy
Money Strengths: Shopping is often a social activity for you. The positive spin here is that you know you’ll be making purchases you feel good about because you’ll have the affirmations of your friends, family, or significant other.
Money Improvement Plan of Action: Although, the 30% off deal on shoes may make you feel warm and fuzzy internally, you tend to go overboard and discover as many deals as you possibly can. Keep shopping a social event but bring a friend to hold you accountable to a limited number of purchases. Then, you will have leftover money to spend on other social activities that bring you joy, like a family-style dinner or even going out for a night on the town.
The S-personality type characterizes people who are Sympathetic, Stable, and Sweet.
They are both Passive and People-Oriented.
S-types ask the “how” questions – “How are we going to do this?” or “How does this impact us?”
People with the S (Supporter) personality type tend to be calm, patient and respectful in their interactions with others. Rarely angered or excited, they are likely to work to maintain a peaceful and harmonious environment.
S-styles greatest fears are conflict and instability. In fact, S-styles worry about inconveniencing others or being a burden. Stability is important to S-style so it’s imperative to give them what they want. Contrary to how the S-personality thinks, conflict can be productive and healthy when working through prevalent issues.
Core Belief: I’m valuable if I can help others.
Here are some examples of famous celebrities with the Steadiness (S) personality:
Lana Del Ray
Michael J. Fox
Money Strengths: You live and die by the motto “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. This is a great money-saving mindset when it comes to everyday consumer goods. Many highly regarded brands also reward these types of loyal customers with discounts and other types of dependable deals. The S-types are also aware that wealth building takes consistency – you invest periodically in the income producing assets, even when things get hectic and markets may be uncertain.
Money Improvement Plan of Action: Change can be hard for you. Although you like to stick to your guns, it can be advantageous to take the road less traveled sometimes. Look outside your comfort zones for other creative ways to invest and reduce your liabilities. And don’t be afraid to buy a new tube of toothpaste; no one should be putting in that much effort to squeeze out the last drop.
The C-personality type characterizes people who are Calculating, Competent, and Cautious.
They are both Passive and Task-Oriented.
C-types ask the “why” questions – “Why does it work this way?” or “Why is this step needed?”
Conscientiousness is the personality trait of being careful, or diligent. Conscientiousness implies a desire to do a task well, and to take obligations to others seriously. Conscientious people tend to be efficient and organized as opposed to easy-going and disorderly.
People with the C-personality type tend to be objective, skeptical, and logical in their behavior. They are usually fiercely pragmatic and frequently solve problems with an analytical, fact-driven approach. They are likely to be more reserved in groups and may take a long time before they build enough trust to open up.
A C-style person’s greatest fears are ambiguity and criticism. C’s are the biggest critics of their own work as they are often perfectionists. He or she always needs more time to perfect his or her craft. Make sure not to rush these C-types, as this is often their biggest pet peeve. Sometimes, it is necessary to constrain their time otherwise they may be working endlessly until the end of time. Prevent any distractions that may impede their ability to accomplish the desired task.
Core Belief: I’m valuable if I am competent.
Here are some examples of famous celebrities with the Conscientiousness (C) personality:
Money Strengths: You are thorough and careful, which helps to avoid falling for any get-rich-quick schemes. If there’s a stock you’re interested in, you’ve kept a watchful eye on the equity for countless days and have conducted all the research you possibly can conduct to minimize risk. You meticulously weigh the pros and cons before making any purchases.
Money Improvement Plan of Action: Your hesitance and precaution may be a downfall that leads to analysis paralysis. You may have missed a few once-in-a-lifetime shopping deals or stocks at an all-time low price because you were not 100% certain at the moment. While these regrets may haunt you, fret not as you can still adapt to be more decisive in the future. You always think you need more time to analyze the good and the bad. The truth is that there never is a truly “right time”. Don’t get caught up in the details; Carpe diem and chase your fiscal goals without delay!
From the above infographic, C-Suite employees have predominantly the same style personalities regardless of their country of origin. CEO’s and CFO’s in many different companies had D as their dominant personality style. Findings in the U.S. yielded similar results.
Albeit, D’s may be more geared to climb the corporate ladder, but every personality style has the capacity for excellent leadership. Moreover, every personality style lends itself to a different, but equally beneficial, leadership style.
COVID Effect on DISC Personality
The COVID-19 global pandemic is affecting every person differently. It can help to realize how you are handling the consequences.
For instance, an analytical C-style person may want to dive into the precise numbers and daily updated stats of the virus.
On the other hand, the I-style person may feel neglected and miserable from lack of social interaction with friends and loved ones.
Maybe the D-style person is demanding too much from his or her spouse and has too high of expectations of his or her kids to complete all of their schoolwork in a timely manner.
Finally, the S-style individual may have taken on a workload they can’t possibly handle, but will suffer in silence because they want to please everyone around them.
Everyone has unique reactions to problems and issues they encounter day in and day out. It’s important to realize how we can help each other cope with the pandemic ramifications.
DISC Personality Interaction
As you would expect, the opposite personalities clash the most (i.e. D’s clash with S’s while I’s clash with C’s.)
Unsurprisingly, adjacent personalities get along more (D’s with I’s and C’s, I’s with S’s and D’s, S’s with I’s and C’s, C’s with S’s and D’s).
No matter how unique our parents or teachers tell us we are, each one of us can be categorized into four categories. At times, we may wander from one quadrant to the other depending on the situation or location (i.e. at work vs. at home), but our fundamental personalities are predominately anchored to one of the DISC letters.
Having the DISC personality information at your disposal allows you to effectively interact with different types of people as well as you possibly can. Once you can understand personalities, you can begin to depersonalize behaviors and realize a person is acting predictably based on the situation he or she is presented with.
As a result, one may decrease frustration, miscommunication, and error in judgement. This allows you to have more empathy and to improve relationships with friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers.
Where Does Your DISC Personality Fit In?
If you want to find out what DISC personality you have, feel free to take a free 5 minute DISC test right here (No email address or personal data required).
The test only consists of 28 groups of four statements.
For each group of four descriptions, you should have one most like you and only one least like you. Very simple and fun!
Which DISC Personality style are you? Let me know in the comments below.
What a year 2020 has been! This year has been tough for everyone across the globe. Despite the hardship, there is plenty to be hopeful and grateful for. Today, I will be exploring how much I spent on Amazon Shopping in 2020.
Your holiday shopping may look entirely different this year due to the lockdowns and quarantine in order. Or your holiday shopping venue may be the same as every year. Either way, more people will be shopping online than ever.
In 2020, I am projected to save a whopping 73% of my income. This is no small feat and certainly took immense discipline. Albeit, the restrictions on in-person gatherings have ameliorated the expenses.
Nevertheless, I was able to indulge on myself and others via online shopping. For such a grueling year, your family, friends, loved ones, and even that micromanaging boss of yours all deserve a nice gift.
You can expect delays around the country as shipping companies will be overloaded with orders so I would recommend placing your holiday orders as soon as you can.
*Disclosure: At no extra cost to you, FLA will receive a referral commission if you use the Amazon affiliate links below to purchase an item. Thank you!
Let’s get to the list. What did I spend my money on this year?
The year started out with one of my favorite purchases. I know the highest grade in school is an A+, but I use the NutriBullet almost every single day. It holds plenty of volume for my daily smoothies and shakes, is super easy to clean, and has never failed to blend. I was thoroughly impressed with this one.
I’m naturally a prepper. No, not one of those doomsday preppers. More of a realist ‘what-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong’ type of prepper. I was in need of a new umbrella, so I bought a standard, modern model in preparation for the rainy months to come. No complaints here.
I pride myself on my smile. As a result, I feel more confident and this, in turn, has a compound effect in my life. For transparency, I typically use Whitestrips annually. Talk to your dentist for his or her recommendation.
TV’s can be hit or miss in regards to picture quality. The Toshiba TV is so clear. I also needed a Smart TV to connect to all of my streaming devices. I’ve officially cut cable! Terminating your cable bills is a great way to save monthly!
Flaxseeds are a great source of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids in addition to vitamins and minerals. I typically add a couple tablespoons of Flaxseed to oatmeal, smoothies, and other quick meals. They are great for your heart, cholesterol, blood pressure, skin, hair, eyes, and brain.
Piggybacking off the previous purchase, I wanted to ensure my posture would not degrade while working remotely. The product was an idealized way to fix any hunches I had developed. However, it just was not practical to wear this every day, and I quickly stopped using it. Price was relatively cheap so wasn’t a big investment, but I still liked the idea of it.
Peanut Butter typically is high in fat. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re looking to put on mass, but I really enjoy the taste of peanut butter. This PB powder allows you to indulge without the extra calories.
I’ve heard so many good things about this book that I had to read it for myself. Warren Buffett touts it as the best investing book. After reading it, I’d have to agree. The sound investing technique of buying companies that can consistently post a profit every quarter will inevitably cause their stock price to gradually rise. The foundation of relentless innovation and a product or service in high demand has been proven over and over throughout the years.
My Dad has been using the same stud finder since I was born. I finally got him an upgrade. I was blown away when I saw this device is able to find the center of every stud behind the wall. It can be used for almost every type of wall you can think of too.
I can’t remember the last time I drank from a plastic water bottle. Using a Brita Pitcher and re-usable water bottles are such easy ways to help out the environment. I highly recommend every household get a Brita Pitcher.
This air compressor is useful not only for car tires but also for sports balls and pool toys. It can conveniently be stored in your car trunk or garage. If you’re stuck on the highway, the compressor can plug in and get power from your car battery. It’s a very durable item.
I use this scale every single morning before I shower. It keeps me on track for my goals for weight loss or muscle gain. The scale connects with your phone via Bluetooth technology and will read out weight, body fat, water retention, muscle composition, etc. Lastly, it plots every metric imaginable on visually appealing graphs.
This fan is one of the most popular models on Amazon for a reason – it looks modern and has a low profile. My only complaint was that the directions were not very clear. It took a long time to install even after reading the instruction over and over again. Seeing the final product made all the hard work worth it though.
If you don’t eat enough leafy vegetables, this is a great supplement. Again, this powder can be added to smoothies and topped off on other meals. There isn’t any added artificial flavoring that offsets the health benefits. It was more expensive than expected, but 60 servings in a container will last you a long time.
Many working from home are looking for comfortable chairs to promote good posture. Ever since purchasing this chair, I feel like an executive when I sit down. Nonetheless, I recommend getting up, walking around, and stretching as much as you can to get the blood flowing.
My ears are one of the first parts of my body to get cold in the winter months. This was one of the best purchases I made this year as my face actually feels warm during frigid weather. I really enjoy this fleece material; it is not restrictive and very comfortable.
Green tea has endless amount of health benefits. From improved brain function to fat loss to protecting against cancer, you really can’t go wrong with green tea, unless you’re drinking more than 5 cups per day. Plus, green tea has some caffeine (approximately 30 mg to 50 mg) to wake you up on mornings you don’t want to be at work.
I’m a big fan of pancakes, waffles, and every other great breakfast meal. Normal syrup has a lot of carbohydrates and sugars that will induce insulin spikes. I can drown my breakfast in this sugar free syrup without feeling any guilt whatsoever.
If your diet is lacking in protein from natural sources like chicken, fish, meat, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and eggs, then Whey Protein Powder may help supplement with Branched-chain amino acid (BCAA’s) to assist with building strong and lean muscle.
Why overpay for Airpods when you can get the same wireless headphones for a fraction of the price? This was one of my favorite purchases. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had earphones ripped from my ear because the wire gets caught on a desk, door, or chair. These wireless earphones connect to your phone, and you can listen and talk on the go.
Online Amazon Shopping Wrapped Up in 2020
All in all, the total I spent on 34 Amazon individual purchases was a mammoth $1,306.78!
Amazon no longer provides easy-to-use order report so you either need to:
Manually add up your purchases from your order archive history
Request a report from a designated time range. Amazon will email you confirmation and you’ll have access to a spreadsheet, where you’ll be able to add up the total.
Thankfully, my monthly side hustles have essentially covered all of these purchases, AND I still have plenty of cash left over to invest. If your annual Amazon spending is more than you anticipated, do not fret or beat yourself up over it. Just work towards bringing that number down lower the next year!
One of the beautiful things about starting a blog is that you now have the public to keep you accountable.
Last but not least, reviewing this list will also make you stop and think:
Were these purchases worth it?
Did these products bring me happiness?
Were the items worth the labor and time at my job? Were they worth the delay towards ideal retirement?
These questions are now somewhat quantifiable now that you have a running total of expenses.
Some of the few mediocre grades may make us cringe and regret. On the other hand, a list of A’s & B’s should take you back to the time in elementary school when your parents would praise you for an outstanding report card.
You decide for yourself: do you deserve an ice cream sundae for your 2020 Amazon report card?
Let me know how your 2020 spending compares to previous years in the comments below.
Welcome to the 1st FLA Guest Blog Post! Today we explore what you should do with credit card debt when you are laid off. Thank you to Bethaine from Debt Consolidation US for sharing these helpful answers to a frequently asked question.
She freely shares her magical money secrets to climb out of debt – which really aren’t too magical or secretive – that helped her build her net worth tremendously.
What Should You Do with Credit Card Debt When You Are Laid Off?
The first and most important matter is you need a good survival plan immediately when you are laid off and need to cope with the credit card debt.
In the case of the ‘Layoff’ scenario, the importance of a good survival plan is very necessary. Usually, the layoff order does not give you enough time to control your finances.
For the present condition, your goal must be to chalk out a survival plan for you and your family until you get a new job again. Along with it, you must check yourself from falling into a huge debt hole and take care of your credit score as well.
In this article, the intention is to brainstorm a plan for you so that you can survive your layoff as well as cope with your credit card debt.
1. You Can Pay Off Just the Minimum Amount Now
Usually, it is a bad idea to pay off the minimum amount on your credit card debt. Nonetheless, this idea will work for you when you no longer have a job.
Thus, the better option for you will be to pay off the minimum amount rather than paying almost nothing.
If you pay nothing, then the credit card companies may charge penalties, fees, and fines against you and it will most likely negatively affect your credit score.
It will be better for you to pay off at least the minimum amount for now. Further down the line when you can generate steady income again, you can then pay off more than the minimum amount.
By this strategy, you can salvage your credit score, get protection from late fees and fines, and won’t get any pesky calls from debt collection agencies.
2. You Can Negotiate an Agreement with Your Credit Card Firm
People often forget: everything is negotiable. After all, exchange of money is just a barter system.
You may contact your credit card firm and state your case to their representative regarding your present financial condition.
Nowadays, overseeing the current COVID-19 situation, many credit card companies are offering special assistance programs for those who are laid off due to Coronavirus.
With the special assistance program, you can come into an agreement with your credit card firm so that you can skip the monthly payment for a few months, waive your credit card interest and you may get other benefits also.
You have to get in touch with the credit card firm to get the special assistance that is only available in the pandemic time period.
3. You Should Try to Create a Family Budget and Continue Your Daily Expenses According to It
Creating a strict family budget and continuing your daily expenses according to the budget, can be a useful way to cope with credit card debt.
A strict family budget will decide for you what you need in your life now and where you can stop spending. This may, in turn, prove that some of your superfluous spending is surprisingly a luxury for you.
A budget may help you with some extra saved dollars that you can use to pay at least the minimum amount every month of your credit card debt.
4. You Can Consider the Credit Card Debt Consolidation Option to Tackle the Debt Burden
You can easily opt for the credit card debt consolidation to consolidate or merge all your credit card debts and make it into a single payment.
The balance transfer card can be another option for you that you can choose. You can transfer all your credit card dues to the balance transfer card.
With a balance transfer card, you may get a 0% interest promotional offer for 6 months to 18 months. You have to pay off your credit card dues with the benefit of a 0% interest rate and that is within 12 to 18 months.
Therefore, you can repay a major portion of your outstanding balance without paying any interest rate.
Thus, you can apply either the credit card debt consolidation method or the balance transfer card method to repay your credit card debt when you’re going through the inauspicious layoff situation.
5. The Wise Decision Will be to Shun Using Credit Cards for a While and Use the Cash Payment Option
In normal times, people use credit cards more than cash payment because,with credit card buying, you may get several rewards and points that are not possible with normal cash payment options.
But this restriction-free-buying mode has a negative side too. With the lure of rewards and offers, we sometimes spend more balance than our given necessity.
The ultimate result is you have to bear the debt burden on your shoulders.
So, when you are out of a job and your earning avenues are limited, return to the traditional cash-payment method.
It will keep you within a spending limit and you’ll be saved from any type of additional credit card debt burden.
These are the 5 ways that you can choose to take action when you are unemployed, concerned about your retirement, and the stress of how to repay your credit card debt is gulping you.
What Can Be Your Last Resort If You Are Completely Unable to Pay Off Your Credit Card Bill?
According to financial experts, when you are unemployed and don’t have enough savings even for paying off the minimum credit card amount, you can opt for the bankruptcy option.
You may get some immediate relief by choosing the bankruptcy option, but experts always recommend using the bankruptcy option as your last resort.
You may file bankruptcy under Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 under the bankruptcy act, but beware of the negative effect because bankruptcy may damage your credit for the long-term.
The best option is at least you should try to pay off the minimum amount on your credit card debt. At this fundamental point, you can avoid any late fee charges, penalties, etc. You should not try to avail of the bankruptcy option as your first option. Later when your financial situation will improve again, the best course of action is to try and pay off your credit card debt in the standard way.
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Many of us would like to build enough capital to prepare for the future and enjoy an early retirement. However, this can feel impossible at times. What are the 5 foolproof steps for early retirement? How do we develop a solid plan?
Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can start taking today to help you achieve the F.I.R.E. (Financial Independence Early Retirement) you’ve always dreamed of.
There are no secret tricks and tips. It mainly stems from discipline and consistency. You don’t need to be a Wall Street investment banker or a PhD scientist to outsmart the market. Here are 5 simple steps that will put you on the right path.
1. Increase Annual Savings
Everyone has heard the trite advice of forgoing the precious cup of morning coffee at your favorite hip coffeehouse to save money. This simply isn’t going to get you to retirement though.
You need to build habits of saving. Let me let you in on a little secret; successful people do not have greater will power and determination than your average Joe. The high achievers just remove temptation and practice consistent habits.
Save as much as you possibly can now, and I promise you will not be disappointed by the results in 10 to 30 years from today.
2. Decrease Annual Expenses
It may seem like common sense, but so many of us struggle to grasp this basic concept. Expenses add up very easily and very quickly. It’s important you perform monthly audits of your credit card statements to see how your spending has changed month to month.
It is okay to splurge every once in a while, but be sure to not make it a habit. It’s the same idea of eating healthy. You can stop by the fast food drive-through once in a blue moon, but if you continually practice this bad habit, you will gain weight without a doubt.
Furthermore, avoid consumer and other forms debt like it’s the plague. Even if you are indeed in debt, it’s still easier than you think to rid yourself of debt with the power of positive habits. Again, it may be daunting to turn your net worth from negative to positive, but if millions have done it before, so can you.
3. Make Steady, Consistent Investments
Now, there are some factors here that you have little control over.
Investment Growth Rate: How much your investments compound annually.
Investment growth rate is sometimes at the mercy of the stock or housing market, depending on the year. But overall, you can expect a rate of approximately ~6-7% (with inflation accounted for). Your income from your job may not increase much year over year, unless you pester your boss for a raise or a bonus.
Time in the market is way more important than timing the market.
Investment and financial analysts will always recommend buying low and selling high, but the truth is, humans simply aren’t robots. We will never be able to flawlessly invest, but we can get the best bang for our buck by letting our investments grow for as long as possible. Let your money do the heavy lifting for you.
Even our cute friend, Raven, can predict stocks better than some money managers that possibly bring home a larger annual salary than both you and I.
4. Diversify Income Streams
The wealthy often have multiple streams of income. Whether this is from stocks, real estate, I.O.U.’s, or even intellectual property, the rich know how to maximize cash flow going into their bank accounts.
The book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki is a great fundamental novel that goes into detail regarding assets (things that make you money) and liabilities (things that lose you money).
Although we will not get involved in judging Kiyosaki’s character and other ventures, the financial community can agree the book is a vital tool to launch your net worth in the right direction.
Feel free to check out Fresh Life Advice’s Monthly Side Income Reports to see the current ways F.L.A. creatively supplementing a corporate paycheck. Again, there is no one-size-fits-all formula to follow, but hopefully this can supply you with myriad ideas to implement in your own life.
5. Use Money to Save Time
Ask yourself, “Self, what is truly the point of early retirement?” To most of us, the purpose of early retirement is to use our time for the things we truly care about. There is no doubt about it; we all have limited time on this Earth. That is the limiting factor that puts the rich and the poor on the same level playing field. What is the difference between the rich and the poor?
Well, the rich are using their hard earned money (or lucky inheritance) to buy back time for the things that truly matter in life: family, friends, hobbies, etc.
The poor, along with a great deal of the middle class, misleadingly think that spending their money on impractical status symbols, such as fancy watches, luxurious cars, and excessive wardrobes will make other people admire them more, and thus increase their happiness. This is, of course, a fallacy as we know that most people only really care about themselves and are often too busy with their own problems to be concerned with what car you drive.
For example, the modern wealthy folks now spend money on nannies, gardeners, maids, and other services that allow them to focus less on daily household chores and more on the mysteries and life experiences that awaits them.
Why Should You Have a Plan?
“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
-Mike Tyson, Former Heavyweight Boxing Champion
To the contrary, Fresh Life Advice has a formidable rebuttal to this famous opposing quote. F.L.A. would like to emphasize the importance of planning – specifically the right kind of planning. Everybody does have a plan until they get punched in the mouth — the key is planning for what you are going to do AFTER that happens.
One of the biggest reasons why I created a blog was to organize my thoughts coherently and offer advice to the general public. Again, I don’t claim to know more than you. I just hope you learn at least one new thing from me. Moving to different states and taking several different jobs, I’ve run into eclectic groups of people. Oddly enough, I observed that there was a constant underlying accepted corporate dogma.
People in the public and private sector both seemed to accept the standard way of life was to work until you’re 65 and then retire. This antiquated way of thought was hardwired into their brains either via their parents, boss, coworkers, etc. At times, I often felt like I was alone until I reached out to the finance blogging community. FIRE is becoming a modern mantra.
The first law in the United States that called for an eight-hour work day was passed in Illinois in 1867. In 1926, as many history lovers know, Henry Ford — possibly influenced by US labor unions — instituted an eight-hour work day for his employees.
Now, we can see this divergent fork in the road caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic. The world’s workforce is now being split up into employees who can work from home and essential employees who must physically be present in the office, warehouse, hospital, etc.
Many predict that in the future, the office will function as a 3rd space (similar to your favorite coffeehouse): a hub, a town square, a neighborhood. Workers will decide when, how and where to work. People will flow in and out. Employees will be connected by social networks, cloud computing.
Which side of the spectrum will you end up as technology and artificial intelligence develop at an aggressively rapid pace?
If there’s anything that life and Darwin have taught me, the answer is simple: you must not only survive but also adapt.
So what does this all have to do with money?
Well, my point is that the world is a scary and unpredictable place. Most people enjoy their 9-5 jobs because it gives them the comfort and security they long for to help them sleep at night. I’m here to tell you it’s possible for a normal human, just like you and me, to leave the workforce way before age 65. In fact, I’m on pace to retire by age 38. Even if I miss that mark by a full 10 years, I’m still on pace to retire a full 27 years earlier than the average American! That’s an incredible amount of time of freedom.
Is This ‘5 Foolproof Steps Early Retirement’ Plan Actually Foolproof?
Of course not. No plan ever is. But I can assure you it’s pragmatically close to flawless.
Life almost never goes according to plan. And that’s totally okay. We will adjust and adapt.
Many fear an economic downturn or recession. Well, I’m here to shed some light on this fear.
Economic recessions [bear markets] generally do not last as long as expansions [bull markets] do. Since 1900, the average recession has lasted 15 months while the average expansion has lasted 48 months. The Great Recession of 2008 and 2009, which lasted for 18 months, was the longest period of economic decline since World War II. If this happens, buy stocks or bonds at the cheaper price and retire a year later. There is nothing to fret!
The most important thing is to have a plan though. Be intentional with your thoughts and actions. It’s time to stop being reactive and start being proactive. Where’s a great place to start?
Well, think about your own retirement age. What age are you aiming for?
If you can control these 3 factors, you will be in GREAT shape:
Income: How much money you are making
Expenses: How much money you are spending
Savings: How much money you are saving
When people mention Savings Rate, they are simply referring to your Savings divided by Income. Don’t let terms like these confuse you.
Sounds obvious, right? It’s not rocket science, but Wall Street often makes it sound like it. There are only two ways to do increase your savings rate: earn more or spend less. That’s the basic rule of personal finance. Still, Americans significantly struggle with these aspects. F.L.A. will show you specific action plans to increase your savings rate.
Be ready for backlash when revealing your early retirement plan to friends, family, and loved ones. Even the people closest to you and the ones that you trust the most may project some negative feelings onto you. It’s completely normal.
“Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.”
― Pursuit of Happyness
Will Early Retirement Guarantee Happiness?
Humans are terrible at predicting future happiness. In fact, there was actually a scientific study conducted by three established psychology university professors to prove this “end of history illusion.” No matter what age, humans underestimate how much they will change. Two different studies were conducted:
A group of 18-year-olds was asked to predict what their lives will be like in 10 years. The 28-year-olds group reported significantly more changes than expected.
This exact experiment was then conducted with 58-year-olds and the same result occurred when the subjects turned 68.
Even with plenty of life experience, you have no idea what will happen to you in 10 years!
As a result, it is imperative that you have a plan in place to at least guide you in the direction you would like to follow. But more importantly, remember to practice gratitude and count your blessings every single day, because you never know what your future holds.
The good news is that you are on the right path. The first step in the process is making the decision to move forward with your intent.
Some of the top bloggers have turned their passions into full time blogs that support their hopes and dreams. Why can’t that be you? What’s stopping you? Lack of information?
Well, this guide will break everything down into simple, easy steps to help you start your blogging career.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, FLA will earn a commission. When you purchase hosting using the Bluehost or SiteGround affiliate links, they compensate Fresh Life Advice, which helps make this comprehensive guide free of charge to you. Know that I only recommend products and services I’ve personally used and stand behind.
Let us start with the basics:
What Is A Blog?
Some of us may not know what a blog even is. Well, guess what? You’re reading a blog right now! The word blog is actually short for the term weblog.
A blog is known to represent digitized information, an online magazine, a diary, a portfolio of art, a teaching platform, and really anything that you can imagine.
The most popular modern blogs use not only text, but also a combination of images, GIFs, videos, journals, and other references. This conglomeration is ideal to convey the message, information, or propaganda the author is attempting to present.
Blogs are often interactive, where readers can comment on posts in real-time. This is facet alone is a massive advantage over outdated televised news outlets and physical newspapers and magazines.
Now, we are aware of what elements make blogs so popular and successful. But how do we build our own? Here are 8 easy steps for you to follow and start a blog:
1. Choose Your Niche
Before you come up with a website name, it’s smart to target a specific niche you would like pursue. The Internet is a vast place. Choosing a niche will allow the people who are searching for your content find you with relative ease. If you have a general blog with no direction, your work will most likely end up in the graveyard of unfinished blogs after you’ve seen the lack of traffic to your site.
I recommend focusing on 1-2 niches on your blog, but no more. If you write about too many topics, then your SEO potential will be limited.
The search engine Google typically likes to establish themes around your blog. From that point of establishment, then you will be able to rank for a myriad of subcategories around that theme (i.e. personal finance).
If you want your blog to be about all areas of your life, that’s awesome; however, to be blunt, your posts likely won’t rank as highly as a blog focused on 1-2 topics.
The following list includes some of the top profitable niche categories, some that even encompass billion dollar industry opportunities:
Fitness / Diet / Weight Loss
Dating / Relationships
Wealth / Investing / Personal Finance
Make Money Online / Passive Income
Beauty / Anti-Aging / Makeup
Gadgets / Technology
Prepping (i.e. Meal Prepping to Doomsday Prepping)
If you are looking into selling your own niche products whether via e-commerce or whatever it may be, then here are some inventive ideas to sell online:
Handcrafted Beaded Necklaces.
Home-made Frozen Yogurt.
Leather iPad Cases.
Bluetooth Wireless Speakers.
Mason Jar Pour Caps.
Organic Beard Oil.
Reviewing the previous list, you’ll notice a pattern that these odd items grouped together are profitable because there is little competition. Therefore, if you enter the market, you will have a greater chance of succeeding. Never forget to do your thorough market research before diving into your chosen niche.
Action Item: Jot down a list on a piece of paper, on the computer, or on your phone of your 5 passions, 5 problems and 5 fears. Once you have a list of 15 items, pick your 5 favorite ones. From this point, enter these 5 key terms into a keyword research tool and look for related keywords that branch from your selected original term that you can utilize to build a site fully function website.
2. Choose a Blog / Domain Name
Ultimately, the name of your blog is everything. It’s your brand. People have such short attention spans these days that you need to IMMEDIATELY hook them in with your name.
Many choose to use their domain name as their full name (i.e. www.FirstNameLastName.com), especially if they are the only person running the blog.
However, if you would like to remain anonymous, use a company name or brand instead. In that case, the possibilities are endless.
Try to keep your domain name to fewer than 4 words or 20 characters. Anything too long may make it difficult for your audience to remember. Think about the most iconic companies, such as Apple, Nike, etc. They are short, concise, and easy to recall.
Keeping a short, punchy name will lead to higher direct traffic as users will be able to directly type your business name into their browser HTML bars.
More importantly, experts highly recommend securing the .com domain since it has the largest global ranking potential. Even if the price is higher, you will see a higher return on your purchase.
Action Item: Jot down a list on paper or on your phone of your 10 different possible domain names. Be sure to use an online thesaurus to aid with the process. This is still preliminary since you’ll need to check with the next step for finalization.
3. Check the Name Availability
You may have gone through the mentally taxing brainstorming process. However, all of that work may be for not if someone else has thought of the idea before you.
Action Item: Use the free tool below to see if someone else has already come up with your concept.
If you want to start your own blog, feel free to start with hosting your very own site!
4. Buy and Reserve the Domain
After you’ve ensured that no one has stolen your ingenious name, it’s time to put the petal to the metal. Go ahead and purchase that domain name to ensure you are the sole owner of the website domain.
One of the first mistakes I made was proceeding with a free blog. I did not want to spend money as it was common sense that saving money rather than spending money would result in a profit. However, it took experience to learn that it wasn’t so much foolishly spending money as it was rather investing in the business. Some of the most profitable blogs on the Internet spend millions of dollar in advertisements and other marketing techniques. But for new bloggers, the best advice I can give you is to not skimp on hosting. You want your site to be fully functional without the servers crashing.
Using Bluehost or SiteGround will help you get an edge up on your competition as they offer:
Customer Service Support – to answer any of your questions. Trust me, making a blog is not easy. You will have questions and they will not rest until they solve it.
Fast and Responsive Loading Times –if your site goes down, you may lose valuable traffic opportunities. A fully functional site will also decrease your bounce rate, ensuring readers stay on your site for long periods of time.
Unlimited Advertising Opportunities – you are free to monetize your site with this hosting option. This is how you will make your money in the long run. Don’t skimp out on hosting.
Action Item: To be clear, buying domains and buying hosting are totally separate and different transactions. However, Bluehost and SiteGround are the hosting companies that make it really easy for you by combining both steps into one. Go ahead get your site running smoothly with hosting!
6. Design your Website Theme
Moreover, before you jump into writing your blog posts, you should take time to lay out your ideal website theme. You may not be a trained web graphic designer with front end software engineering experience, but I can promise you WordPress has made this a cinch.
WordPress is the most popular platform for content management. It is an application programming interface that allows you to stay organized.
As you can imagine, WordPress is used by some of the top Fortune 500 companies, most popular news stations, music record labels, and celebrity influencers. In fact, WordPress is used by
Action Item: Familiar yourself with WordPress, themes, plugins, tools, and settings. Once you watch a few tutorials, you should be ready to select the theme that most appeals to the look and feel of your website design.
7. Write A Blog Post
This is one of the least technical aspects of the process. College English majors and professional writers dream of this step. Put the pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard. In order for a website to thrive, you simply need content. There is no circumnavigating this step. Writers block is often the toughest obstacle in this case.
“Writer’s block is a phony, made up, BS excuse for not doing your work.”
According to a Backlinko study, the average word count of a Google Top 10 Result is 1,447 words. Does this mean you need to write a 1,447 exact word count post every day? No, of course not.
You can still succeed with plenty of posts under 1,000 words, but it is generally suggested to write at least one post per month of at least 1,500 words. This will convey experience, authority, and quality when user traffic searches for their inquiries.
The best thing you can do is begin to write. No one writes a perfect draft because it’s called a draft for a reason. Continue to proofread and edit until you are finally satisfied to press the ‘Post’ button for the first time.
Action Item: Remember, there are never perfect conditions to start. Just begin, take action, and the momentum will run in your favor. Write that first blog post!
8. Promote Your Blog
You may have written the best blog post ever, but there is a possibility no one will read it.
Build an audience before you launch. Once you’ve got that audience, promoting your blog via social media becomes significantly easier to manage.
The biggest hurdle in social media, at least in my experience, is the initial push. Taking your blog from a no-show to a small success is difficult, but scaling that small success into a much larger traffic source isn’t as difficult as many social media marketers make it out to be.
The age old belief that building an audience after you launch your product is, simply put, entirely wrong.
From Bloomberg writers to one of the world’s most well-known marketers, the majority of successful business people will tell you that building your product afteridentifying its ideal market is the way to go. For bloggers, despite lacking a product per se, the rule still stands fairly true.
Building an audience before launching your blog allows you to quickly and easily make changes to it based on their reaction. It’s the same line of thinking that’s behind successful product advertising campaigns and focus groups – gaining data as quickly as possible. Treat your blog as an experiment in its early days and you’ll quickly discover what works, what doesn’t, and what’s worth doing right.
Not all of the following launch techniques are appropriate for every blog, and not all of them have the potential to build you a sizable audience before your launch. However, they all can help you build a promotional asset before your blog launches, which can come in very handy for initial promotion and word of mouth marketing.
‘Coming soon’ opt-in pages
Do you already have a following on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or another leading social media site? Use it to create pre-launch opt-in subscribers to your blog.
Before launching a blog on any topic, you need to make use of the biggest social media outlets to build a base level of subscribers. While these subscribers aren’t enough to spread word of your blog far and wide, they’re very helpful for launching smoothly.
Provided you have a reasonably large audience and a trust level that’s fairly high with them, you’ll have very little trouble converting followers into subscribers.
I should clarify this, since given the marketing antics that are often pulled on Twitter it’s important to weed out the potential for misinterpretation. If you have a Twitter account that’s loaded up with spam messages, endless self-promotion, and mindless marketing, you’re going to have difficulties converting your followers into opt-in subscribers or blog readers.
There’s a trust that needs to be maintained over social media, and every time you send out a link that’s forwarded to an affiliate offer or a mindless sales page, you lose some of that.
This runs somewhat against the ‘quantity is everything’ Twitter credo that many marketers believe in, but it’s essential to maintain authority if you plan to build a high-traffic blog.
Short-term tricks just don’t work in the blogging world, and an account that’s loaded with direct marketing tactics is likely to cause more damage to your blog before it launches than it could possibly cause in benefits.
Your core audience
Here’s an interesting phenomenon that I, and I’m sure most other marketers have noticed: regardless of where you’re publishing or what you’re writing about, a small (although not always) few will find it and market it for you.
Even if it’s an insignificant batch of ten to twenty people, almost every blog or guest post writer is going to find themselves attracting some kind of audience over time.
In the case of bigger bloggers, this audience eventually grows to the point where it acts as a buoy for their other content.
An interview or guest post on an unrelated site attracts comments that will turn attention in another direction, often towards your main blog or website. When combined with your new blog’s launch, this can eventually prove to be quite a valuable promotional asset.
Just like marketers are familiar with the landing page – a pre-sales page that convinces consumers of a product’s value – bloggers need to be familiar with their core audience, as they effectively do the same thing for their blog, albeit in an organic manner.
Avoiding ‘pushy’ emails
Effective mailing lists, particularly lists that have been generated over several years, are incredibly valuable for marketing a new blog, product, or service. While I didn’t have a large mailing list that could be used for the Fresh Life Advice launch, I can understand how valuable they are from past mail and subscription-based projects I’ve been involved in.
There’s one golden rule for sending email, particularly email that has a non-sale goal attached to it: don’t be pushy.
Andrew Warner, the founder of Mixergy and several other high-value websites, put things fairly well in his interview. When he founded his business in the late 1990s, receiving email was a monumental occasion for one of his subscribers.
Today, it’s something most of us don’t want to see, particularly in a niche as crowded with messages and technology as web design. While pushy email marketing can work in some fields, those with an urgent need for solutions especially, it’s not the best way to market a blog to tech-savvy readers and high-value customers.
Be persuasive when email marketing, but never be needlessly pushy.
Offer an incentive to join
Incentivizing your blog is a fairly risky move. On one hand, it’s incredibly effective at grabbing the attention of potential readers and contributors, yet on the other it can become quite a costly process, both in the amount of time required for a good promotion and the cost of running one.
If you’re completely new to the blogging world and lack any form of audience, running a promotion or competition is a fairly good way to generate subscribers and long-term readers.
The standard ‘buy a product for opt-in’ readers is fairly overblown and dull. Instead, it’s worth offering a service that’s related to your blog’s content, or providing some sort of professional value for your readers.
Instead of the standard prize, try to come up with something unique to your audience as an incentive to join your community or subscribe to your blog.
Action Item: Create the social media pages for your website, build an email list, and start interacting with other bloggers and users via responses to comments, emails, and other forms of social media. Set aside an hour per day as this is arguably one of the most important steps of launching a successful blog.
Final Thoughts on How To Start A Blog:
It isn’t hard to launch your blog, but it is quite hard to avoid making simple mistakes and minor errors.
More than anything, consistencyand regular posting builds authenticity. There’s an endless amount of empty marketing on the internet, particularly on thin blogs purporting to be impartial. When you have a huge archive of content behind you, it becomes significantly less likely for people to think of your blog as a marketing shill, ultra-commercial sales resource, or inauthentic scam.
Simply put, with a large content archive behind you and a reputation that’s stemmed from it, you’re insulated from the risk of being labeled a sell-out. I think that blogs are a fantastic tool for sales and marketing, but new blogs rarely are. It takes a certain amount of authenticity and reliability to sell to regular readers – much more so than it takes to sell to a search-based website visitor.
All in all, running a high-traffic blog has confirmed the immense value that I thought they could provide to both bloggers, readers, and advertisers. There’s really no excuse not to have your own blog, whether as an outlet or a commercial asset. If you’re on the fence about starting a journal or information blog, don’t fret – get out there, get writing, and start your own blog today.
Today, more than ever, there seems to be endless advice and information, but there is only one place that will provide you with Fresh Life Advice. Welcome.
I would like to thank you for reading, existing, and supporting Fresh Life Advice. This would not be possible without you.
Please also share this guide with any of the people in your circle who may benefit from it. My goal is to help as many people as possible on their financial journey.
Just think. If millions of others can successfully launch blogs, then so can you! Go out there and take action!
I don’t claim to know more about money than you do. In fact, you may have more knowledge than me in over 99% of the field of economics, but if I can at least teach you one single new thing (i.e. The motto on the first US coin was “Mind Your Business”), then I feel I’ve accomplished my goal.
Money is taboo. Nobody wants to tell other people what they make, and even worse is that most people don’t even know how much they spend. Everyone around me just seems resigned to working until 65.
Jason Bateman’s opening monologue from the pilot episode of the hit Netflix TV Series Ozark absolutely shocked me:
“Half of all American adults have more credit card debt than savings. Twenty-five percent have no savings at all. And only 15 percent of the population is on track to fund even 1 year of retirement… Money is, at its essence… The measure of a man’s choices.”
The Internet is vast place filled with tons and tons of endless information – yet, somehow, the humans you talk with every day don’t seem to reflect this phenomenon.
We all know that one person who loves to talk, but has nothing of substance to say:
“Shallow brooks babble loudest, but still waters run deep.”
A United States President said another variation of this when he originated the phrase,
“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”
-Theodore Roosevelt, 26th U.S. President
My friends and family may know me as that quiet guy, but this is only because I enjoy listening more than speaking. This is my time to use my countless years and years of absorbing new concepts and formulating them into coherent thoughts for you to practically implement in your day-to-day life.
Why Start A Blog? – The 3 Most Important Reasons
There are about 1,000 different reasons to create a blog, and each reason has varying importance depending on each person. Personally, these are my 3 paramount motives:
No one lives forever. At least, for now… Last time I checked, humanity has yet to solve the mortality problem. This simple idea is the main driving motivation behind this steam engine of a blog, chugging along the uphill railroad tracks. The goal of Fresh Life Advice is to assist you with taking control of your money by increasing your savings and reducing your spending. FLA will encourage you and help you along your journey to financial independence. I plan to give readers a better understanding of his or her personal finances. FLA is here to show that the big world of Wall Street and intricate investing terms aren’t that complicated after all. This brings me to my next reason to start a blog…
2. Help Others
Again, what is the point of all of this money earned if you can’t enjoy it with others? Everyone may have his or her own internal purpose in life, but many believe the overarching theme is compassion towards others.
“At some point, you recognize the reason we are all here is to help someone else. That is the sole reason we are here. Once you get that in your head, life gets so much simpler. It gets so much simpler.”
-Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple
3. Creative Outlet
As an engineer by day, I find my 9 to 5 filled with stringent guidelines, methodical calculations, and analysis that must free from errors. As enjoyable as it is to know that I’m designing new real-world applications and ensuring the world is a safer place, it can often be mentally taxing. That is why we all need some sort of creative outlet.
Starting a blog seems to be the perfect solution to this conundrum. Not only do I receive a channel for the left side of my brain but I also am in a position to explore other hobbies, such as personal finance.
And of course, there is the undeniable financial motivation. You can’t avoid how tempting the additional income may seem. Not only is additional income, but at its very core, blogging is passive income.
Money is everywhere, and those who are willing to get a little creative and find new sources of income will reap the rewards. Everyone has some skill or motivation that makes them valuable. Find yours to figure out why you should start a blog.
Together, you and I will take the road less traveled, pioneer our way to retire early, and attain financial independence.
Today, more than ever, there seems to be endless advice and information, but there is only one place that will provide you with Fresh Life Advice. Welcome.
As the first blog post on this website, I would like to thank you for reading, existing, and supporting Fresh Life Advice. This would not be possible without you.
Please also share this guide with any of the people in your circle who may benefit from it. My goal is to help as many people as possible on their financial journey.
Just think. If millions of others can successfully launch blogs, then so can you! Go out there and take action!