The old saying that the rich get richer is very true. As long as you manage your money well, it's far easier to make money if you've already got some cash socked away than it is to start from scratch. The reason is simple: compounding.
When you've already got money working on your behalf, each percentage point of return simply adds that many more dollars to your account balances. After all, if a stock you own goes up in value, it's far better to own 10,000 shares than it is to own 100.
Fortunately, anyone with even a little cash to invest can take advantage of the power of compounding. It just takes a little while longer for the rest of us to get to the point where it can really work its magic.
To show how it works, here are a few charts that showcase how many years it takes to reach each $1 million threshold given that you regularly invest and earn a decent rate of return.
To go from $0 to $1 million:
Contribution 8% Return 9% Return 10% Return 11% Return
$100 52.9 years 48.3 years 44.5 years 41.4 years
$250 41.6 38.3 35.5 33.1
$500 33.4 30.9 28.8 27.0
$1,000 25.5 23.9 22.4 21.2
$1,291.66 22.8 21.4 20.2 19.1
To go from $1 million to $2 million:
Contribution 8% Return 9% Return 10% Return 11% Return
$100 8.6 years 7.7 years 6.9 years 6.3 years
$250 8.5 7.5 6.8 6.2
$500 8.2 7.4 6.7 6.1
$1,000 7.8 7.1 6.4 5.9
$1,291.66 7.6 6.9 6.3 5.7
To go from $2 million to $3 million:
Contribution 8% Return 9% Return 10% Return 11% Return
$100 5.1 years 4.5 years 4.1 years 3.7 years
$250 5.0 4.5 4.0 3.7
$500 4.9 4.4 4.0 3.6
$1,000 4.8 4.3 3.9 3.5
$1,291.66 4.7 4.2 3.8 3.5
That $1,291.66 number didn't come out of thin air -- it represents the current maximum monthly contributions available in a 401(k) or 403(b) account for most people. What these charts mean is that you can go from $0 to $3 million in as few as 28 years with a little bit of determination to take advantage of the opportunities you have available. Most of that time is spent getting to that first million. Once you hit that milestone, compounding really takes over to help you reach your ultimate goal.
Get from here to there
The most difficult part is getting started. After all, if you're not already saving money now, going from $0 to nearly $1,300 a month may seem an impossible task.
Fortunately, though, you can get some major assistance in your quest to invest.
For instance, any money you contribute to your traditional 401(k) or 403(b) plan to help you earn your millions will most likely come with an immediate tax reduction. Thanks to that tax break, it's as if Uncle Sam will kick in a significant chunk of that cash on your behalf, reducing the total out-of-pocket cost of your contribution. For folks in the 25% tax bracket, it works out to an out-of-pocket cost of only $75 per $100 of contributions -- a significant savings.
You really can get rich
Once you get started investing, though, the rest is largely a matter of owning solid companies and letting compounding work its magic. Over the past 20 years, for instance, the following companies have all produced decent returns:
Company Price on
8/10/1987 Price on
Boeing (NYSE: BA)
$11.36 $98.44 $12.54 12.1%
United Technologies (NYSE: UTX)
$7.35 $73.08 $8.22 12.8%
Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM)
$2.73 $66.46 $17.12 18.7%
Wendy's (NYSE: WEN)
$11.25 $30.80 $42.23 9.8%
PepsiCo $6.58 $67.95 $13.31 13.4%
General Mills (NYSE: GIS)
$10.24 $55.34 $18.70 10.4%
Automatic Data Processing (NYSE: ADP)
$6.31 $48.42 $10.98 11.9%
All values split-adjusted.
Those solid returns came from companies that were already fairly well known, even 20 years ago. Better yet, owners of those stocks earned those returns in spite of short-term problems like Fannie Mae's accounting issues and the effect that September 11 had on air travel.
This goes to show that you don't have to buy the perfect companies to receive solid returns and build your wealth over time. What matters most is freeing up the cash to make those regular investments.
The two most important parts of getting to -- and past -- your first $1 million in investments are a bit of time and regular contributions of cash.
I would define Opportunity cost in Investing as the loss of chance of compounding your available investing capital and gain of the next best alternative stocks foregone as the result of staying invested in a losing position held for many years; whether it is due to silly stubborness and cannular conviction.
As the Market changes, and very often sectors are rotated into favour or out of favour. Likewise, we should also be flexible and evaluate the Opportunity cost and continously adjusting the portfolio to the flow of the Market and allowing the effect of compounding to work for us and then accumulating profit to offset against losses.
Tales of fortunes made and lost in recessions
Success can be one of life's worst enemies. It engenders overconfidence and, as a result, one tends to let one's guard down - in some instances, to the extent of recklessness
By TEH HOOI LING
MARKET crashes are the greatest redistributor of wealth. This has been true of previous crashes. But in the current turmoil, there are few beneficiaries, a friend noted. It is more a great destruction of wealth on a global scale so far.
A recession is a good time to start a business as costs are low. Disney, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Cisco are some of the companies that were founded in downturns.
Well, okay, some short-sellers may have profited from some of their trades. But many get wiped out in their next trade. Perhaps it is those who are not invested at all and who have the cash to pick through the carnage in the next few years who will really come out ahead. Who knows? Nobody is certain of anything anymore.
A lot of people have been hit hard this time around. There are a few reasons for this. One, prior to this, we've had four years of a bull market where prices had gone in only one direction. Success, notes a friend, is one of life's worst enemies. It engenders overconfidence and, as a result, one tends to let down one's guard - in some instances, to the extent of recklessness. Economist Hyman Minsky sees the cycle of risk-taking in the economy as following a pattern: stability and absence of crises encourage risk-taking, complacency, and lowered awareness of the possibility of problems.
But even for those who are conservative and have their heads centred and feet firmly planted on the ground, the economics just a few months back suggested that being invested was the right course of action. Then, inflation was running at 5 or 6 per cent and banks' interest rates were at less than one per cent.
For someone who didn't want to have his or her purchasing power eroded, keeping the money in the bank wasn't the most logical of options. Which was why a lot of people are invested - and, worse, a lot took loans to invest. If the borrowing cost was so low, and one was expecting to make a return higher than that cost of borrowing, it made sense to borrow.
If one were to assume risk, let it be with capital that one will not need for at least 3-5 years. In the meantime, be grateful for what you have - be it your health or time with your family.
Of course, we know now that a lot of people had underestimated or even ignored the risk of trying to earn those extra percentage points of returns.
A friend shared with me some of the horrendous stories of how an enormous amount of wealth was destroyed in the last few months.
Up till last year, one man had $100 million of his worth in only one stock. Towards the end of last year, that stock started to decline. By early this year, the stock was down more than 50 per cent from its peak just a few months before. The man picked up quite a few additional shares - on margin - thinking that the stock had bottomed and would eventually rebound. Since then, the stock has plunged by another 80 per cent. The $100 million is more than wiped out! The stock is Cosco Corp, which went from 10 cents in March 2003 to $8.20 in October last year - an 82 times jump. It is now trading at less than 70 cents.
Another guy had relatively much more modest means. His net worth was estimated at $2-3 million. He heard from 'reliable' sources that a particular company would be taken over by another at a significantly higher price than the stock's then market price. He bet all he had and, if I remember correctly, also took margin financing to buy that stock. The stock was FerroChina, which has since been suspended because it had run out of money to pay its suppliers and debtors.
One value investor thought Thailand was cheap a few years back. One particular company, a very big one, was trading at 1.2 baht - significantly below its book value. The investor concentrated his bet on that company. And, indeed, the market began to recognise the value of the company and the stock tripled to over 3 baht. The value investor's portfolio grew to $26 million. In the last year or so, the stock has plunged to below 0.7 baht. The investor is now down some 50 per cent on his original capital.
Another man was shrewd enough to think that the market was overvalued towards the end of 2007. So he got out of the market, and even shorted it. He was happy that the market went the way he predicted. He was the smartest guy in town.
By June or July, thinking that the market had fallen enough, he loaded up on shares. Like the guys above, he too used margin financing to pick up the shares. As we know, the market took an even more severe turn in September and October. He too was dealt a severe blow.
A friend was also bearish about the market towards the end of last year. He had put in some shorts. Then last October, the market went on to hit record highs. He lost his resolve, and reversed his trades and got hit as well.
Another made quite a bit of money in the Singapore market. His confidence grew. He wanted a bigger stage. He bought US shares on margin. US stocks took a precipitous plunge a few months back. He has had a few rounds of margin calls.
A young banker in his late 20s made $2-3 million from the property market in the last few years. He ploughed all the profits into a $10 million property, and took loans of some $7 million. He's now saddled with a mortgage payment of some $30,000 a month.
Many of the real-life examples above show just how lethal leverage can be. In a rising market, leverage is your friend; in a down market, the blow dealt by leverage can knock one out for good.
Perhaps another lesson is to always take some profit off the table. Today, the valuations of stocks are at levels unseen in years, if not decades. 'It is at times like these, when there is a lot of fear, that one can make three or four times return on your capital,' a friend said.
Yes, we all know that. But so far this year, every time one thinks that fear is at its maximum, it moves up another level. And another problem is that a lot of investors have run out of money to buy. A lot of the 'liquidity in the system' before the crisis was from loans; now, that has dried up.
In any case, whether a stock is cheap or not is still debatable. According to State Street Global Markets, its global Investor Confidence IndexÃ‚Â® for November fell another 1.4 points to a historic low of 57 points. Commenting on the index, Andrew Capon of State Street said: 'Investors face a difficult dilemma. On the one hand, equities are cheap. Using earnings adjusted for leverage and cyclicality, the equity strategy team at State Street Global Markets estimates that the US price-earnings multiple is 26 per cent below its 147-year average.
'These are levels seen only in periods of extreme dislocation such as the Great Depression, World War II and the 1870s. On the other hand, nobody can be confident that this current economic slowdown will not turn out to be just such a period rather than a more typical recession. 'So far, during this crisis, it is the bleakest forecasters who have been proved right.'
Indeed, we are in unprecedented times now. The euro area and Japan are now officially in recession. Even without the US officially joining this unhappy club, countries representing close to 50 per cent of global GDP are now seeing growth contract, noted Mr Capon. Consensus economic forecasts for GDP growth in the developed world have been falling for 16 months and are at 20-year lows.
Growth in the last seven years or so was propped up by debt-financed consumption from the US. And Asia has built up tremendous capacities to cater to that growth. Now, that consumption has contracted because the enormous financial leverage has to be unwound. That deleveraging process and contraction of consumption will drag on for some time because income has also diminished - if not totally disappeared, given the waves of job losses.
In Asia, companies have to deal with all the excess capacities and the vanishing demand. Many companies will go bust. Jobs will be lost, pay cut. In China, the hardship could trigger social unrest. It could be apocalyptic. We just don't know what will happen in the future.
But the fact is that we are now in the throes of a crisis and that itself may colour our judgment. 'Last year, it felt like the sky was the limit; now, it's like we are sinking into a bottomless pit,' said a friend.
Back to what economist Hyman Minsky says about the cycle of risk-taking: stability encourages risk-taking and complacency. But when a crisis strikes, people become shell-shocked and scared of investing their resources. People also often overestimate the probability of the worst-case scenario after a crisis has occurred.
So, for the optimists out there (if there are still any left), here's an inspiring story.
In 1939, with Hitler's Germany ravaging Europe, John Templeton - who believed in buying into companies at points of what he called 'maximum pessimism' - bought US$100 of every stock trading below US$1 on the New York and American stock exchanges.
Templeton's trade got him a junk pile of some 104 companies, 34 of which were bankrupt, for a total investment of roughly US$10,400. Four years later, he sold these stocks for more than US$40,000! Only four out of the 104 became worthless.
Yet another positive spin. A recession is also a good time to start a business. Costs are low. But it is not a good time to do financial deals - that's for a bull market, an investment banker told me recently.
Indeed, in a downturn, established firms tend to cut back on their growth investments to focus on defending their established core activities. That will create niches to be served by smaller companies. And once the start-ups develop to a certain size and the general economy picks up, there will be no lack of big company buyers that are willing to absorb these start-ups into their fold. That fits into the theory of starting a business in a recession and selling it in a bull market.
Well, here are some of the companies that were founded in downturns: Disney, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Cisco. There is no lack of examples in the local context as well. The first Sakae Sushi outlet was set up in September 1997. Financial PR, one of the largest investor relations firms in Singapore, was founded in August 2001.
Over the next year, there will certainly be more people forced to work for themselves because they will lose their jobs and not be able to find other suitable employment. And it will be no surprise if some of the talented people now unable to find work in an investment bank or other big company direct their energies towards creating a new generation of successful start- ups, said The Economist in a recent article.
I'm sure we all know of friends who created businesses which are now worth millions of dollars because they decided to venture out on their own after being retrenched. Retrenchment can be a blessing in disguise for some.
The key, I guess, is not to lose hope - despite how bleak the outlook may seem now. And if one were to assume risk, let it be with capital that one will not need for at least 3-5 years. In the meantime, be grateful for what you have - be it your health or time with your family.
1. Be on the lake when the fish are feeding. (Know what sectors the market likes.)
2. Don't go fishing when the lake is packed with tourists. You probably won't be able to get near your favorite fishing hole, and even if you do, all those churning propellers will scare the fish away. (If everyone is playing the same stock idea, the easy money has already been made.)
Risk is higher when buyers already push up the share.
3. Come prepared with well-maintained fishing equipment, an adequate supply of bait, lures and sharp hooks, and an extra supply of patience. (Give your best ideas time to work, but don't use margin to see them out.)
Do your homework, i.e. have some profit target and action plan.
4. Don't make noise; you will scare the fish away. (Fidelity never speaks; why should you?)
Buy before others rushing in.
5. Don't fish where there are no fish. Know the structure of the lake and the habits of the fish you are trying to catch. Electronic fish finders can help you locate fish, but it won't make them bite. (If no one else is buying, why should you? Catching falling daggers can kill a dip-buyer.)
Don't waste time on those share that Big Boys are not interested.
6. Despite your best preparations, sometimes the fish just won't bite. (Don't be discouraged; go back to shore and enjoy the day, then come back another time.)
Even the best traders are only 60% right. (Just make the winners big ones.)
7. Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of a school of feeding fish. Keep your hook baited and in the water. Correct equipment problems quickly, and get the bait back in the water. (When your stocks are running up, stay with the trend.)
8. When a big one takes your bait or hits the lure, set the hook firmly, keep tension on the line at all times and play the fish until it tires. Keep the landing net out of sight. (Don't sell winners too soon.)
Sell 50% first and let the stock run than sell others later.
9. When a really big one breaks your line, take it in stride. He may still be in the area, so always have a backup fishing outfit aboard. (If a market decline washes out a group, get ready when the group takes off again.)
10. Know when to come back to shore, particularly when whitecaps start to appear or there are storm clouds in the distance. (If the market gets crazy, go to cash while you figure things out.)
This post is from Michael Yoshikami, President and Chief Investment Strategist of YCMNET Advisors, a wealth management firm:
Kathy Willens / AP
The rollercoaster ride continues. We shriek as the market pitches and heels – but the ride’s not over yet. This rollercoaster ride isn't fun anymore. While my kids might like the thrill of fear, I'm no fan of it. And I’m guessing the average investor’s not liking it either.
Well, here's a little secret that’s built investment empires through the years. Employ this piece of advice and you’ll find yourself in control rather than wandering aimlessly, listening to so-called experts telling you what to do.
YOU decide what to do.
Make investment decisions based on what's important to you. What do you believe? You decide. After all, it's only your financial future here at stake, right? And in the end, no one else will care more for your finances then YOU.
That's the secret. You decide.
Decide what’s important to you and then listen to yourself. And be skeptical. Understand that every voice you hear has a framework, which, may or may not suit your needs. Take for example, Warren Buffett.
Warren Buffett Watch
Oh, to be Warren Buffett. He has made and lost billions. One day's market move for Berkshire Hathaway often totals in the billions of dollars. When he says to buy, do you think he is concerned about what will happen next week or next year? Nope. He's looking at fundamental value, and he can afford to take a hit for a long time frame. He can afford to wait and simply stroll down to Dairy Queen for an ice cream.
What about you? How long can you wait? Warren Buffet says to be greedy when other people panic. Well that sounds great except that he lost $10 billion last month but still has $30 billion to fall back on. So let’s get to the real question -- Do you agree with the philosophy that says you can be patient and wait for value to emerge? Are you able to have a hot fudge sundae and let it pass?
Decide and follow your best judgment. Don't avoid making decisions -- that can be a disaster. Like a deer caught frozen in the headlights of an oncoming car, investing from this perspective makes little sense and will likely get you the same result -- trust me it doesn't work out well for the deer.
What is YOUR philosophy? It's been oftentimes said that if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything. Psssssst ... this applies in investing as well. So pause and answer these questions:
Is the economic world coming to an end or is this a shorter-term challenge?
When do you need to pull out money?
How much pain (fluctuation down) can you take before you panic?
The last time you panicked, what did you do and how did that work for you?
Figure out what you believe, your time horizon, the direction of the economy and your willingness to endure pain/pleasure. This will unlock the key to an investment strategy that’s right for you. And really in the end, aren't you sick of listening to everyone telling you what to do especially when it changes every 15 minutes? Be free now. Read and listen with curiosity not desperation.
One has $200K investing capital to invest, but not enough to invest on an asset of $1M. One becomes greedy and want a multi-bagger ROC (return on $200K capital). This can only be achieved by taking excessive risks, through leveraging (i.e. borrowing several times of one's initial investing capital of $200K).
If one is overly greedy and is leveraged more than 10, 20 or 30 times their annual earning, (30 times is maddness) and thinking one has control over future earning like a man who has plenty of drinks and still thinking that he has control over his driving.
Make sure the assets in your portfolio suit your needs and your personality, just your furniture fit your living room and your own individual style.
If you have a large and fully air-con living room, by all means fit in a really big, leather sofa set, and a 60" wall mounted LCD TV and enjoy yourself.
If you have a small living room with no air-con, try to fit in a really big, leather sofa set, and a 60" wall mounted LCD TV. Are you really enjoying yourself? See how long you can sit in your sofa without getting heated up (credit squeeze happen, will happen again). Are you going to have a stiff neck and shoulder watching 60 " LCD TV from a short distance? (Investing in property is like putting your big eggs in one basket at one big bang, leveraged or some overleveraged to seek high debts for one big single return)
Choose your assets wisely, and do not follow others blindly because our living rooms are of different size.
It is very important when investing to think of risks before profit, whether in stock or property investing. Do we need to learn through the painful way of losing huge sum of money before we learn how to think of risks before profit.
Also there is such no investment that is low risk, and moderate return; otherwise, this investment will definitely be overbought by the Market and return will be significantly reduced or out of stocks.
In another word, for better return, higher risk is expected, and chance of losing your invested capital is real, and can happen unexpectedly.
Think of risks before profit.
1) How much I could lose without hurting me financially, if not to reduce the investing capital to the level that is not hurting.
2)For smaller capital, one could take higher risk as one could have not much difficulty in restoring the lost capital through more aggressive saving or reduced expenses to rebuild the investing capital to resume investing. Investing is a marathon, once started, no matter how, one have to stay invested; otherwise, there is no chance to recover those losses through return on safe financial instrument like fixed deposits. For bigger capital, one will have to take lesser risk approach and diversify the risks, it will be harder and take longer time to rebuild capital back to this level again.
3) If one thinking of using leverage (borrowing or taking loan to buy property), it is better to consider the numer of times of leverage against your annual earned income. Do you want to be 20 or 30 times leveraged? Look at those bankruptcies, they all killed by overleveraged. Period.
4) Long term investing does not mean no risks. In the market, corporate raiders are constantly prowling the Street to take companies private. It is not wise to overweight one counter to more than 40% of your portfolio. Overweight is a double edge sword, it can boost profit signicantly but it can kill too.
There was a Wall Street analyst by the name of Joe Dominguez who saved enough money to retire at 31. He spent the rest of his life enjoying himself, doing volunteer work, and writing a book called “Your Money or Your Life”
We aren’t making a living, we are making a dying. Consider the average American worker. The alarm rings at 6.45 and our working man or woman is up and running. Shower. Dress in the professional uniform – suits or dresses for some, overalls for others, whites for the medical professions, jeans and flannel shirts for construction workers. Breakfast, if there’s time. Grab commuter mug and briefcase (or lunch box) and hop in the car for the daily punishment called rush hour.
On the job from nine to five. Deal with the boss. Deal with coworker sent by the devil to rub you the wrong way. Deal with suppliers. Deal with clients/customers/patients.
Act busy. Hide mistakes. Smile when handed impossible deadlines. Give a sigh of relief when the ax known as “restructuring” or “downsizing” – or just plain getting laid off – falls on other heads. Shoulder the added load. Watch the clock. Argue with your conscience but agree with the boss. Smile again. Five o’clock.
Back in the car and onto the freeway foe the evening commute. Home. Act human with mates, kids or roommates. Eat. Watch TV. Bed. Eight hours of oblivion.
And they called this making a living? Think about it. How many people have you seen who are alive at the end of the work day than they were at the beginning? … Aren’t we killing ourselves – our health, our relationships, our sense of joy and wonder – for our jobs? We are sacrificing our lives for money – but it’s happening so slowly that we barely notice.
You have enough for your survival, enough for your comforts, and even some special luxuries, with no excess to burden you unnecessarily. Enough is a powerful and free place. A confident and flexible place.
Become conscious of your expenditures. Stop trying to impress people with your possessions. They are not paying attention because they are too busy trying to impress you. Pay off all your debts, including your mortgage. That’s not too hard once you reduce your expenses.
Because of these inherent subjective elements, success investing depends on understanding our emotional reactions to the market and its participants. Buried in these emotional reactions are both investment errors and investment strengths that remain mostly unconscious unless we devote substantial energy to unearthing them and then leveraging what we learn about ourselves into profitable decision-making.
Young investors should be thankful to meet Mr Bear while they are young and they may have not accumulated more investing fund from their income. If they were to meet Mr Bear 10 years later, they could have lost alot more in their portfolio.
Probably, some has missed Great SPC Sales. Got to wait for crude oil to crash again to buy SPC.
Can you wait that long?? 2020
----------------- By 2020, China will produce more cars than the U.S. China is also buying its way into the oil infrastructure around the world. They are doing it in the open market and paying fair market prices, but millions of barrels of oil that would have gone to the U.S. are now going to China . China 's quest to assure it has the oil it needs to fuel its economy is a major factor in world politics and economics.
Value investor diligently carries out fundamental analysis to determine the margin of safety for their entry level. But, I am thinking what if, the same value investor turns into a short term trader after the purchase, then sell into strength during this volatile bear market, and buy it back. Does this not significantly increase the margin of safety for the next purchase? What if he is successful for 15% gain, does not that increase the margin of safety by another 15% on top of the initial margin of saftety. Start thinking brothers... maybe I am talking nonsense leh
We can read, and read and then become very financially educated and will be successful in our investment. I don't think so. I believe that we will only be truly smarter, and financially wiser after going through at least one round of Baptism of Huge Losses, then we will become successful in investment.
So don't feel depressed in this Great 800 Pound Bear Market if you only previously encountered 1 Kg Teddy Bear.
Cold Winter will not last forever, Spring is nearer now and not farther. Cheers!
I am 61 yrs old uncle living in HDB heartland who has achieved financial independence @ 56 and retired @ 60 from full-time job as employee.
Single household income since 1995 with three children. Eldest son and daughter are now working and youngest son still in his 2nd year uni in SUTD.
I have been doing long-term investing and short-term trading in Singapore stock market only since Jan 2000 so I am that Panda or Koala in the investment world; but I am still surviving well in the wild.
I am now executing my Three Taps solution model to maintain sustainable retirement income for life till 2038.
Last updated: 3 Sep 2017
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